What is Mediation?

Conflicts are a part of life. Trying to resolve them in litigation is time-consuming, expensive and can be emotionally draining. When aware of this likelihood, parties are increasingly rejecting the traditional legal system in favor of mediation.

In a typical mediation session, parties come together voluntarily to find a workable resolution to their differences. An experienced mediator works to open productive discussion between the parties about the issues at hand in a calm, organized way, thus helping each of them to recognize what will and what will not work for them.

In the process of doing so, possible resolutions arise and the mediator guides the participants toward a final agreement of their own making. The mediator does not give legal advice, voice opinions, or decide who is right or wrong.

Typically, when asked at the conclusion of the process, all parties involved in mediation say that they are satisfied with the results: a condition rarely occurring in trial or arbitration.

What Happens when I call?

The program’s case manager will ask you questions and explain your dispute-resolution options.

If the program manager determines that the conflict is suitable for mediation services, a case will be opened. The case manager will send an invitation letter to the other party and will follow up with a phone call to address any questions or concerns the other party may have.

Once parties agree to mediate, the case manager assigns two co-mediators to each case. The meetings are scheduled at a time and local site that is convenient to the parties, which can include weekdays or weekends, daytime or evening hours.

Mediations are held in the Los Altos Community Center and typically run from 2 to 3 hours in length but can be adjusted to meet the actual needs of the parties.

Often times, cases are resolved and/or conciliated on the phone before a face-to-face mediation is necessary. If the parties wish, the mediator will help facilitate the exchange of any settlement proposals via phone, mail, and/or email, and will also help them document the final agreement.

The Mediation Process