It seems like everyone knows what mediation is like. Within a mediation case, there is the plaintiff with lawyer, the defendant with lawyer, and the mediator who stands between them. Most people think that mediation is where disputes are resolved, through discussion of the issues between the parties, through the mediator. There is, in fact, a joint meeting session to start the day. But I have never seen it resolve the issues. Typically, people just say what’s strong about their case.
In practice, there is little to no attempt to resolve disputes throughout the mediation. Mediation is an all-day negotiation session, in an attempt to arrive at a settlement. Some mediators try to point out the strengths of the other party’s case. However, the party and his/her lawyer have already evaluated the strength of each party’s case, before the mediation commences. A good lawyer will also help her/his client determine the party’s bottom line, as to how low they are willing to go, to reach a settlement. A good lawyer will also advise his/her client that negotiation can continue, through the lawyers, even if a settlement is not reached during the mediation.
It would seem that the mediation would end within a few hours. However, it is not uncommon for the settlement negotiation to take all day. The time-consumer may be when the party and her/his lawyer discuss, all alone, what size of offer the party wants to make next.
There is pressure from the mediator, and the other party, to settle on the day of mediation, and sign a settlement agreement. That’s why you are present at the mediation, to make a binding settlement. Courts also pressure settlement through mediation. Indeed, in most counties, such as Travis, mediation is required, before trial.
And the mediation system works, for the parties who really are interested in reaching a settlement, and therefore are willing to substantially discount what they have requested in the suit. In the past, the parties’ lawyers negotiated settlements between themselves. But with mediation, many more suits are settled.