If you are involved in a serious legal dispute, it might seem like the only solution can come through aggressive courtroom litigation. However mediation can provide favorable resolution to all types of legal disputes in a more efficient, less stressful manner.

At PGP Mediation in Los Angeles, California, firm president Phyllis Pollack handles mediation in a wide variety of legal disputes. She has mediated more than 1,400 mediations and has nearly 500 hours of mediation training.

To learn more about mediation, please review the following pages: Common Misconceptions About Mediation and Mediation Tips For Attorneys

If you do not reach an agreement, you have the same options that you had before mediation. Mediation does not remove your right to go to trial or to proceed to arbitration.

Typically, yes. If the parties reach an agreement in mediation, it is normally put in writing and signed by the participants. That signed agreement can affect the legal rights of the parties going forward.

Mediation isn’t about changing your mind – it is about giving you the opportunity to take control of your conflict. The mediation process offers parties an opportunity to express themselves and to find unique, creative solutions that aren’t offered by traditional litigation.

Mediation can occur at almost any time, even after a lawsuit has been filed. In most cases, it is best to mediate as early as possible so that the parties can avoid spending more time, energy and money on the conflict.

Lawyers are welcome, but not necessary. Attorneys can provide legal advice regarding your options and the effects of a signed agreement on your rights moving forward. However, some parties choose to check in with lawyers by phone or feel comfortable moving forward on their own.

Definitely not. Mediators often use private caucuses, giving each party the opportunity to meet with only the mediator to discuss issues they are not comfortable disclosing in front of the other party. The mediator will not discuss anything with the other party unless he or she is given permission to do so.

Yes. Mediators will not reveal the names of parties involved in mediations or details about the situation unless someone threatens physical harm to themselves or someone else during the mediation. Most mediators ask parties to sign a waiver, stating that they will not subpoena the mediator or any written work from the mediation in court.

Mediation is, at its core, a voluntary process. However, many judges or statutes will mandate that parties attempt mediation because it is often successful and takes some of the burden off the court system. If you have been ordered to mediate, you are required to show up to the session and put forth a good faith effort. You are NOT required to come to a resolution.

Mediation is a flexible, informal process that can be tailored to the needs of the parties. Some sessions begin by bringing both parties together and allowing each the time to tell their story, while others are conducted with the parties in separate rooms and the mediator going back and forth between them. In joint sessions, mediators often use caucuses to meet individually with each party to have private conversations.

The goal of mediation is to allow the parties to have a guided conversation or for the mediator to be able to share enough information that the parties can work toward a mutually beneficial solution. Mediation can be a place to brainstorm new ideas or to negotiate traditionally, with each party modifying their offers as they gain more information. How the process unfolds is really up to the parties.

Mediation is a voluntary form of conflict resolution that brings parties together with a neutral mediator who helps them work through conflict to find mutually beneficial solutions. The mediator will not make a decision for the parties – the parties retain control of their own resolution.