In the legal profession, we say that a good mediator can get the parties to agree to a resolution that neither of them likes. Both sides leave unhappy because they had to compromise on something that is essential and important to them.
Everyone knows there is a monetary price to pay for litigation. Filing fees, attorney fees, deposition costs, third-party copying expenses, court fees, etc., etc. Settlement and resolution also have a price or value, but the value of resolution is impossible to quantify because of the uncertainty of litigation. But, there is a value to resolution and avoiding litigation. Combatants pay this price in mediation through compromise. Finality and peace of mind that the dispute is done and over often times has a very high value, and a strong mediator can help parties see and understand this on a logical and emotional level.
I am a big believer in mediation. I've seen it work countless times. I'm happy to sue and litigate as well when the stakes are high and litigation is the right business decision, but I try to use mediation as a step before litigation, and I write mandatory mediation clauses into most of the contracts I write.
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