Over 98% of civil law suits in Colorado get settled rather than go to trial. Litigation can be expensive, and trials can be even more expensive. They are almost always time consuming, and are often unexpectedly stressful. They can consume an enormous amount of a business’ time, resources, and energy. In most situations it is in both parties' best interest to try to negotiate and settle a dispute before taking it to court, and to try to negotiate early in the process.
Mediation is an alternative dispute resolution (ADR) mechanism. Mediation is voluntary and either party can terminate the process at any time, though if ordered by a court or a requirement of a contract, parties must typically participate in good faith. During mediation the parties meet with an impartial mediator trained in resolving disputes. Typically each party presents its case. The mediator listens to both sides and offers impartial analysis and advice, and provides possible solutions to the parties’ conflicts. Mediators provide new insight into a case, bringing their own experience and outside perspective. In the experience of our attorneys, we have not participated in a single mediation without learning something new or gaining a different insight into our case or that of our opposition.
In the business setting, mediation has many advantages. Disagreements and disputes are a natural part of conducting business. Litigation will be confrontational, adversarial, and almost certainly detrimental to future business relationships. Businesses may have, want, or need to maintain ongoing relationships. There may be a strong mutual interest in achieving a prompt resolution. Mediation gives both parties the ability to vent frustrations and then look objectively at ways to resolve their underlying conflicts.
Mediation can also help the parties to recognize each other’s legitimate concerns and needs, and to design options to resolve their differences. Oftentimes settlement agreements achieved through mediation include creative business, tax, and financial solutions beyond the scope of what a court could impose through trial.
In Colorado, mediation is becoming a required step in the litigation process and is often ordered by judges to assist negotiation before trial. While it may be a mandatory step in litigation, it is also a good option early in business disputes and can be taken advantage of long before filing a case in court. We often advise clients to try mediation prior to filing a lawsuit, or, in the early stages of litigation.
The attorneys at Mallon & Lonnquist have a broad range of mediation experience. Some of our attorneys have served as impartial, court appointed, mediators in employment, contractual, and commercial disputes; others have certifications in mediation and alternative dispute resolution. Our experience mediating a wide range of business disputes provides our clients with a another valuable approach for resolving disputes early and successfully.
Mallon & Lonnquist, LLC, is a business, finance, real estate, and litigation law firm. Craig T. Watrous is a Colorado business and real estate litigation attorney with Mallon & Lonnquist, based in Denver, Colorado. Craig regularly represents businesses and individuals in disputes from pre-filing through trial and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.