Rory Weiner, Esq.,B.C.S.,Ph.D., is a Supreme Court Certified Circuit Court Mediator. He has been practicing law for over 20 years and is a Board-Certified Expert in Business Ligation. Prior to becoming a lawyer, Mr. Weiner received a Ph.D. in ethics from the University of Florida and taught ethics for almost 14 years. Mr. Weiner has participated in 100s of mediations and looks forward to helping you resolve your case. Below is a brief explanation of the mediation process.
What is Mediation?
Mediation is a way for people to resolve their disputes (whether in a lawsuit or prior to one) with the help of an impartial mediator in lieu of going to court and letting a judge or juror decide your case. Mediation provides a safe forum for you and the other party to negotiate your differences and decide how you want to resolve them. Sometimes mediation is court ordered. Other times, the parties decide to mediate before a lawsuit is filed to avoid the expense and time involved with going to court.
In mediation, rarely does one party get everything he or she wants; the purpose of mediation is to compromise, which means most of the time if the parties settle their disputes, one party will give more than he or she wants and the other will receive less than he or she wants. If a party does not want to resolve the dispute, he or she is free to say so and the mediation will end, and the mediator will report to the court that the parties ’negotiations ended in an impasse. You can never be forced to settle your disputes. The decision to settle is always voluntary.
What is a Mediator?
A mediator is a neutral and impartial guide to help you come up with possible solutions, stay on track, and clarify areas of agreement and disagreement with the person you are mediating with. A mediator is usually Florida Supreme Court Certified, who is trained in negotiations. The mediator may help you and the other party see the conflict from each other side’s point of view. The mediator does not make decisions for you or tell the parties who is right or wrong. The mediator does not take sides but may challenge you to consider the strengths of the other party’s case and the weaknesses of yours. In doing this, the mediator is trying to bring the parties together and get them to compromise.
A mediator is not an arbitrator. An “arbitrator” is an attorney who is picked by the parties to decide their case. An arbitrator is like a private judge. The arbitrator will hear evidence, arguments and make a decision about who wins or loses.
What happens in mediation?
Mediation usually begins with the mediator and all of the parties and their attorneys in one conference room. The mediator will explain the mediation process and his or her role in mediation. The mediator’s introduction is usually followed by an opportunity for you and the other party to explain your side of the dispute. If you have a lawyer, he or she usually makes this opening remark, although you are allowed to talk as well. After these initial procedures, the mediator will usually put the parties in separate rooms and visit with the plaintiff (or the person making the demand) first to discuss his or her offer. He will then meet with the defendant (or the other party) and present the offer and work to get a counteroffer. This will continue until the parties settle or one or both sides decide that no settlement is possible at that time. Although the parties may not have to settle their case at mediation, they are still allowed to keep negotiating between themselves to try to settle; or they can even ask the mediator to resume mediation and try again.
Mediation is confidential. What happens in mediation stays in mediation. And the mediator will only share with the other side what you permit him or her to share. This allows both sides to talk freely about the case and how to settle it. Moreover, nothing said in mediation may be used in court. Everything said in mediation is inadmissible in a court of law. Again, this promotes the free flow of ideas, offers and counteroffers between the parties.
Tips on How to Prepare for a Mediation
Before you attend a mediation, there are a few things you can do to help prepare yourself and to help make the mediation more beneficial to you. Only the parties to the dispute are permitted to attend mediation; so do not bring witnesses or friends or family to mediation.
- 1.Get legal advice: Because a mediator cannot give any legal advice to any parties, if you are not currently represented by an attorney but you have legal questions about your case (including what your case may be worth or what to accept as a “good” settlement), you should contact an attorney before the mediation, so you may make an informed decision about settling your case. If you cannot afford one, Legal Aid or The Florida Bar may have a program to assist you.
- 2.Get organized: Go over all of the information that you have and organize it. It may be helpful to list events in the order in which they occurred. Gather any documents about your issue and put them in a folder to bring with you to the mediation. If you have an attorney, talk to your attorney about your case and mediation. Your attorney may be able to provide you with even more information on what to do during the mediation
- 3.Come prepared: Be prepared to talk to the other party in the dispute. Even if you have had problems talking to the other party on your own, the mediator is there to help with communication.
- 4.Understand the dispute: Get the issues straight in your head. If it helps, write the issues down. Think about which issues are the most important to you as well as which issues are least important. In addition, think about what may be most and least important to the other person or party.
- 5.Set goals: Think about what you really need to resolve the case or dispute. Set realistic goals to guide you in your decision making, but be flexible because you may get new information at the mediation that could change your mind.
- 6.Get to the mediation on time: It is important that you arrive at your mediation on time. There are things you should consider in order to be on time - one item is parking. At many buildings, it is difficult to park. Find out in advance about what parking is available and the cost. You may have to pay fees prior to appearing at the mediation or in court. Arrive in enough time to pay your fees.
- 7.Arrange for childcare: If you have children who must be cared for, you should arrange for a babysitter. Often courts and other mediation meeting places do not have anyone to care for children and children are generally not allowed in a mediation.
Rory B. Weiner, P.A. is a law office practicing Business Law, Civil Litigation, Real Estate Law, Closing Services, Probate and Wills & Trusts.
Our Law Firm office is located in Brandon, Florida at the Lumsden Executive Park.
We also represent clients in Riverview, Apollo Beach, Seffner, Valrico, New Tampa,
South Tampa and the surrounding Tampa Bay Area.
Attorneys at Law - Brandon/Tampa (813) 681-3300
~ Mediation Services ~ Supreme Court Certified Circuit Court Mediator
Phone: (813) 681-3300
Fax: (813) 681-3391