This article is reprinted with permission from the August 2002 issue of The Metropolitan Corporate Counsel.

Most cases settle. Regardless of how big or small the dispute, 95% to 98% of all civil cases never go to trial and are resolved through settlement. For litigators, clients and the courts to which we bring our disputes, the presumption of eventual settlement is an accepted premise of our daily lives. Were it otherwise, our system of justice could not function.

Litigation can be a time consuming and expensive process. Besides saving attorneys' fees, earlier resolution may provide further advantages as the parties' attention and resources are free to focus on other activities and the conduct of normal business. So if most civil disputes are going to settle eventually, what can be done to effectuate an earlier settlement?

Mediation is one of the early settlement methods available to disputants. It allows the parties to a dispute to work with an impartial mediator to attempt to achieve resolution. The goal is to "facilitate" resolution, "supercharge" the negotiations, and otherwise utilize the skills of the mediator and the willingness of the parties to reach an agreement.