Updated: December 4, 2012
Mr. Cowan is a firm believer in mediation. This is an out of Court meeting with him and his client or clients and the opposing party or parties and their lawyer.
Mediation begins with everyone in the same conference room. Each party (usually not the lawyer in this case) gives the other side of the case his or her honest opinion and feelings as to why he or she is right.
A mediator (usually a highly respected lawyer who has been specially trained in the art of mediation) is present and hears these statements. Several days before this date, each lawyer submits a confidential statement to the mediator so he or she is very familiar with the perspective of each side before the mediation begins.
After this each side and their lawyer moves to a separate conference room and the negotiation/mediation process begins in earnest.
The seasoned mediator elicits an initial offer of settlement from one of the parties and why they believe that this is a good offer. The mediator takes this offer to the other party and, without revealing any confidential information, presents the offer and the reasons for it. He then artfully guides the party and their lawyer to discuss the offer and explain the basis for it. Then the mediator encourages a counteroffer and goes back to the other conference room following the same process. This occurs back and forth until the case is settled or the hope of settlement is gone for that day. The whole process is voluntary and a party will not be forced to accept anything.
A critical part of the mediation process is the selection of the highest quality mediator. Not only is this important in terms of knowledge and experience in this type of case, but also selecting a mediator who has a track record of being a part of numerous fair settlements. The mediator should be one who has clearly developed the common sense to carefully communicate with many different kinds and types of people and understand their emotions. The mediator must clearly have the ability to gain the trust and confidence of these different types of people. The mediator must never “talk down” to any person.
Mr. Cowan has participated in numerous mediation sessions and while it is a long day, the stress and strain of trial and all events leading up to it are avoided. He has seen case after case settle, sometimes to his complete surprise. He believes that one of the reasons for these settlements is vested in the very thoughtful selection of the mediator. This will frequently make or break the chances of a fair settlement. Some people are very bright and have many years of experience but have not developed the people skills necessary for success. The mediator must have the ability to help each side see and carefully consider the strengths and the weakness of their case in light of the offer “on the table” at the time. These same skills are also needed by the lawyers. If there is a serious deficiency, the chances of this totally voluntary settlement process are compromised but it still may be possible to bring about a settlement being successful if superior skills are present in most of the other parties. Mr. Cowan rarely acts as a mediator, preferring to represent a party who is involved in the mediation.
It is clear that the majority of clients would prefer to speed up the settlement process through the use of mediation even if the settlement is not quite what they had desired. Mr. Cowan strongly encourages every client to seriously consider mediation. Mr. Cowan always advises his client that a fair settlement is always better than a “roll of the dice” if the decision is made to go through trial. In fact, he will sometimes recommend a second try to reach a fair settlement as opposed to a long trial. Of course, there are some cases that just cannot be settled and in this instance Mr. Cowan assembles his team of trial lawyers and they proceed with haste to take control of the case.
If you would like to have a dispute resolved through mediation, please contact an Indiana mediation representation lawyer at the Law Offices of Gerald L. Cowan today.