Business mediation is a way for companies to resolve their disputes faster and cheaper than going down the traditional road of costly litigation. Mediation is an alternative dispute resolution (ADR) process, which helps the parties come to solutions through mutual agreement and discussion rather than having a court decide for them. While business mediation can be less expensive than the traditional route of civil litigation in resolving business disputes, preparing for business mediation still takes a significant amount of time and effort. Achieving your desired outcome in business mediation requires planning and preparation. In this blog post, the Curley Law Firm team will help new and experienced business owners understand how to prepare for business mediation and what to expect during the process.
What Is Mediation?
Mediation is sometimes described as negotiation facilitated by a neutral third party. Mediation can be used in all sorts of personal, professional, and legal contexts. Sometimes, you may hear couples talk about how they used a mediator in working out their divorce agreement. Interestingly, mediation does not have to involve a business dispute or separation of assets. Some entrepreneurs use different forms of mediation to negotiate contract terms. In this way, mediation can be a cost-effective means to head off problems before they appear.
Because mediation can take many forms, business mediation preparation is usually strategy-dependent. Since mediation may be used to resolve a dispute or even to prevent a dispute, be sure you know what kind of mediation you are headed into before you start preparing for business mediation.
Preparing for Business Mediation
There is no right or wrong method on how to prepare for business mediation. If you are actively involved in an ADR process and mediation is the first step in avoiding litigation, there are a few key steps you can take to help guide your preparation.
Identify Your Key Business Interests and Desires
To fight for your rights and interests, you will need to understand what those are. Whether you want to avoid bad publicity, maintain a business relationship, or keep a contract in place until a certain date, be sure you know what you want when you come to the negotiating table. If you do not know what your business goals are in mediation, you will not be able to work out a settlement that effectively addresses them.
Ask for a Reality Check
Ask your lawyer what they think your case would be worth if you wound up in court. Consider this as you head to the negotiating table and into the settlement phase. But beware—if your lawyer tells you that your case is worth a lot of money, make sure to ask why you did not proceed directly to litigation.
Get an Estimate of the Costs of Litigation
As part of preparing for business mediation, you should speak with your lawyer about what the costs of litigation might be. If you need to walk away from the mediation, litigation costs will be the price you will pay if you do not wind up settling. It is extremely important to quantify those costs up front as best you can. Building those numbers into your mediation decision-making is one of the best business mediation preparation tools available.
Creating a Mediation Preparation Checklist
While the internet has hundreds of mediation preparation checklists for you to download, the most effective way of preparing for business mediation is by putting together your own mediation preparation checklist. By crafting a checklist covering key topics or points for negotiation, you will obtain the dual benefit of first thinking of the topics you want to cover and, second, repeatedly reviewing them as you prepare your mediation materials.
Creating a Roadmap
Like in civil litigation, having a case roadmap is an important aspect of getting to where you want to go in mediation. As part of building your own checklist, it is crucial that you speak with your lawyer about your vision for “driving” the mediation. Is there a logical flow to the facts? Are there stories you need to tell so the mediator understands your position? Be sure to speak up. These are all essential parts of how to prepare for a business mediation.
Creating a Strategy
Although the mediator communicates offers and counteroffers between the parties, you and your lawyer should have a clear idea of your negotiation settlement strategy. Will you reject the other side’s first offer no matter what? What is your bottom line? You should also consider your strategy for what you are offering to the other side.
How the Curley Law Firm Can Help
Founding attorney Adam Curley helps businesses build a solid, entrepreneurial foundation. In his years in practice, Adam Curley has worked with his clients to build lasting enterprises and resolve complex business matters. Contact the Houston mediation and alternative dispute resolution lawyers at the Curley Law Firm today with your business mediation and find out how we can help you and your company.