A collaborative of Professional Mediators working to help solve everyday conflicts and disputes in and around the community
Professional Facilitators helping small and start-up businesses maintain key relationships, build resilient teams and stimulate and focus on strategic ideas and messaging
Dispute Intervention – Mediation – Facilitation – Education/Training
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Mediate-NJ LLC is a growing, statewide consortium of professional third-party neutrals – mediators, conflict coaches, and facilitators – bringing their years of experience and skills to assist you in resolving disputes and disagreements that negatively affect your life. We offer a variety of services including conflict intervention, mediation, facilitation, and assisting in idea and though clarification by acting as a neutral ‘sounding board.’
Community Dispute Mitigation
As humans, we can’t avoid conflict because dealing with others can be difficult. Some things that are said or done can be irritating and if not addressed at the time, can foment into anger and resentment leading to the “I’ll sue you!” syndrome. Friendships and other important relationships, with family, neighbors, landlords, local merchants, or your work colleagues, are often irreparably damaged to the detriment of both sides.
Across our country, third-party neutrals are successfully used as an alternative to litigation. Where litigation by its very nature, forces a judge or jury to declare a winner and loser, third-party neutrals provide a pathway to an agreement where both parties can ‘win’ and agree on a self-generated, workable solution.
By definition, third-party neutrals are impartial, objective, and non-judgmental outsiders with no personal or financial interest in the outcome of the dispute. They represent both sides of the dispute equally, showing no preference, offering no opinion or judgment and have no power to impose a settlement or resolution. Rather, it is the job of the neutral to foster dialogue from both sides, encourage bi-lateral listening, and promote an understanding of each side’s positions. It is through this enhanced understanding that both parties are empowered to work towards and develop an agreement that terminates the dispute in a win-win manner.
Many disputes can benefit from outside assistance. A third-party neutral can help by assessing the nature of the dispute, help each side gain a better understanding of the other by building a dialogue that shares both perspectives and builds a consensus.
This assistance can take any number of forms from conciliation to facilitation to mediation. Each of our third-party neutrals is trained to assess the dispute and utilize the most effective methodology for the individual situation.
Mediation is, perhaps, the best-known strategy – outside of litigation – for resolving disputes. It is a voluntary process whereby the third-party neutral assists both parties in identifying and discussing the issues that triggered and maintain the dispute. Together, the parties explore potential solutions while developing a settlement that is mutually acceptable to both sides.
Mediation is confidential with no lasting legal records and is considerably less expensive than each side hiring an attorney and going to court. Mediation can begin quickly, often within a day or two and isn’t tied to your attorney’s or court calendars. Mediation empowers the parties to come to a mutually acceptable resolution rather than have one imposed by a judge or jury.
And unlike litigation, both parties must agree to participate in the process – to enter the process with an open mind and a desire to resolve the issues causing the dispute. If either party decides that the mediation process is not working, they can end it knowing that nothing said in the process can be used in litigation should they decide to follow that route.
Not unlike a mediator, a facilitator needs to be impartial, objective and able to empower the ‘group effort’. While this may be accomplished by someone within the organization, an outsider has the benefit of being immune to the political pressures that can drive the process towards a predestined conclusion rather than explore ideas and converge on one that has full group buy-in.
The facilitator plans, guides and manages a process that allows for, and honors, input from all team members. He or she guides the meeting so that each member is fully engaged in the process and has a good understanding of the various ideas and directions as they are introduced. This is important since each of the participant’s shares in the overall responsibility for the outcome.
Key to the process, the facilitator or a co-facilitator has to be organized enough to accurately maintain a list of the items discussed along with their disposition, any action items assigned, and to whom they were assigned to, and provide the organization with a working flowchart on how to move forward with the plans as agreed to during the session.
Conflict Intervention and Mediation
Facilitation for Small & Startup Businesses
Mediate-NJ exists to assist people in settling their disputes inexpensively, expeditiously, and privately – while remaining outside of the court system. As experienced mediators and facilitators, we can help people come together to resolve their disputes and create a workable agreement.
Our goal is to help eliminate some of the anxiety, bitterness, and divisiveness that is caused by litigating arguments – and forcing the court to decide which side ‘wins’ and which side ‘loses.’ Mediation and facilitated negotiations can help all of the participants involved create an agreement that they can live with.
What is Mediation?
Mediation is an effective way to resolve disputes without the need for attorneys or the need to go to court. Using a neutral third party – a mediator – both sides work to reach a mutually agreed upon solution. There is no right, wrong, or need to prove the other is at fault because the mediator does not assign blame and no penalties are imposed.
The mediator’s role is to help both sides attain a solution and to arrive at an outcome that they are happy – or at least willing – to accept. Mediators don’t take sides, make judgments or give advice or guidance. They are simply there as a conduit to facilitate effective communications and help build a consensus between the parties.
Mediation is a voluntary process and can only be successful if both parties agree to fully engage in the process. Mediation is totally confidential leaving no ‘paper trail’ or permanent record. If no agreement is reached, the parties can still retain the right to go to court. The mediation proceedings will not be disclosed or used at a court hearing.
The cost of mediation is shared by both parties. At Mediate-NJ, cost is based on a sliding scale depending on the specifics of the dispute.
Mediation vs. Litigation
The phrase “I’ll Sue You!” has become all too common in our society. Say something bad about me… I’ll sue you. Plant flowers 12 inches over my property line… I’ll sue you. Make too much noise in the apartment above me… I’ll sue you.
The threats are not always carried out, but the damage to an ongoing relationship can be severely damaged. And for those threats that are brought forward the costs can be outrageous both in real dollars and time. Im most instances, mediation or dispute intervention can save hundreds, if not thousands of dollars, and hundreds of hours of valuable time.
The differences between mediation and litigation are considerable. The key differentials are process and cost.
Litigation generally requires each side having its own set of attorneys. Facts must be presented to the court, so a process of discovery in instituted. This means collecting and sharing all pertinent information regarding the case – any paper trail, electronically stored information (ESI), financial data, property maps, agreements, etc. It may require that each side create and respond to interrogatories (detailed questionnaires created by the opposing attorneys) and it could mean that each side deposes the other (having to answer questions and provide evidence under oath). Each of these steps could cost thousands of dollars.
Once all of the evidence is collected, the case will go before a judge or a jury. The lawyers from each side will argue why their client is in the right and the other side is wrong. After all the material is presented and the arguments made, the judge or jury will render a judgment – usually pronouncing a winner and loser. Win or lose, a lot of time and money has been spent. Sometimes, the loser is even required to pay the legal fees of the winner.
Mediation and dispute resolution, on the other hand, do not create winners and losers and no one hands down a judgment. The goal is to have the parties resolve the dispute themselves – with the help of a neutral third party – by listening to each other, sharing their story, presenting possible solutions, and resolving their dispute in a way that can be accepted by both sides.
By working together towards a mutual solution, key relationships are maintained, settlement can be reached inexpensively and without delay. A benefit to all concerned.
Sample Mediation Contract
Sample Agreement To Mediate
This is an agreement between ________ and __________, hereinafter “parties,” and Alan R. Ehrlich, hereinafter “mediator,” to enter into mediation with the intent of resolving issues related to: ____________.
The parties and the mediator understand and agree as follows:
1. Nature of Mediation
The parties hereby appoint Alan R. Ehrlich as mediator for their negotiations. The parties understand that mediation is an agreement-reaching process in which the mediator assists parties to reach agreement in a collaborative, consensual and informed manner. It is understood that the mediator has no power to decide disputed issues for the parties. The parties understand that mediation is not a substitute for independent legal advice. The parties are encouraged to secure such advice throughout the mediation process and are strongly advised to obtain independent legal review of any mediated agreement before signing that agreement. The parties understand that the mediator’s objective is to facilitate the parties themselves reaching their most constructive and fairest agreement. The parties also understand that the mediator has an obligation to work on behalf of each party equally and that the mediator cannot render individual legal advice to any party and will not render therapy within the mediation.
2. Scope of Mediation
The parties understand that it is for the parties, with the mediator’s concurrence, to determine the scope of the mediation and this will be accomplished early in the mediation process.
3. Mediation Is Voluntary
All parties here state their good faith intention to complete their mediation by an agreement. It is, however, understood that any party may withdraw from or suspend the mediation at any time, for any reason.
The parties also understand that the mediator may suspend or terminate the mediation if s/he feels that the mediation will lead to an unjust or unreasonable result, if the mediator feels that an impasse has been reached, or if the mediator determines that s/he can no longer effectively perform his/her facilitative role.
4. Absolute Confidentiality
It is understood between the parties and the mediator that the mediation will be strictly confidential. Mediation discussions, written and oral communications, any draft resolutions, and any unsigned mediated agreements shall not be admissible in any court proceeding. Only a mediated agreement, signed by the parties may be so admissible. The parties further agree to not call the mediator to testify concerning the mediation or to provide any materials from the mediation in any court proceeding between the parties. The mediation is considered by the parties and the mediator as settlement negotiations. The parties understand the mediator has an ethical responsibility to break confidentiality if s/he suspects another person may be in danger of harm.
5. Full Disclosure
Each party agrees to fully and honestly disclose all relevant information and writings as requested by the mediator and all information requested by any other party of the mediation if the mediator determines that the disclosure is relevant to the mediation discussions.
6. Mediator Impartiality
The parties understand that the mediator must remain impartial throughout and after the mediation process. Thus, the mediator shall not champion the interests of any party over another in the mediation or in any court or other proceeding. The parties agree that the mediator may discuss the parties’ mediation process with any attorney any party may retain as individual counsel. Such discussions will not include any negotiations, as all mediation negotiations must involve all parties directly. The mediator will provide copies of correspondence, draft agreements, and written documentation to independent legal counsel at a party’s request. The mediator may communicate separately with an individual mediating party, in which case such “caucus” shall be confidential between the mediator and the individual mediating party unless they agree otherwise.
The parties agree to refrain from pre-emptive maneuvers and adversarial legal proceedings (except in the case of an emergency necessitating such action), while actively engaged in the mediation process.
8. Mediation Fees
The parties and the mediator agree that the fee for the mediator shall be $____ per hour for time spent with the parties and for time required to study documents, research issues, correspond, telephone call, prepare draft and final agreements, and do such other things as may be reasonably necessary to facilitate the parties’ reaching full agreement. The parties further understand that copying, postage and long-distance phone calls will be billed to them. The mediator shall be reimbursed for all expenses incurred as a part of the mediation process. A deposit payment of ___________ toward the mediator’s fees and expenses shall be paid to the mediator along with the signing of this agreement. Any unearned amount of this deposit fee will be refunded to the parties.___
The parties shall be jointly and severally liable for the mediator’s fees and expenses. As between the parties only, responsibility for mediation fees and expenses shall be ______________
The parties will be provided with a monthly accounting of fees and expenses by the mediator. Payment of such fees and expenses is due to the mediator no later than 15 days following the date of such billing, unless otherwise agreed in writing. A 1.5% monthly service charge will be made for any payment of fees and expenses not so timely made.
Should payment not be timely made, the mediator may, at his/her sole discretion, stop all work on behalf of the parties, including the drafting and/or distribution of the parties’ agreement, and withdraw from the mediation. If collection or court action is taken by the mediator to collect fees and/or expenses under this agreement, the prevailing party in any such action and upon any appeal therefrom shall be entitled to attorney fees and costs therein incurred.
The parties understand that they shall be responsible for two hours of the mediator’s time at the above stated rate for any appointment which they do not attend and do not provide at least 24 hours advance notice of the cancellation.
Dated this ____ day of ________, 201_.
Adapted from www.mediate.com – James Melamed
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“Could a greater miracle take place than for us to look through each other’s eyes for an instant?” – Henry David Thoreau
“I’ve always felt that a person’s intelligence is directly reflected by the number of conflicting points of view he can entertain simultaneously on the same topic.” – Abigail Adams
“One of the best ways to persuade others is with your ears — by listening to them.” — Dean Rusk
“An ounce of mediation is worth a pound of arbitration and a ton of litigation!” — Joseph Grynbaum
“Discourage litigation. Persuade your neighbors to compromise whenever you can. Point out to them how the nominal winner is often the real loser — in fees, and expenses, and waste of time. As a peace-maker the lawyer has a superior opportunity of being a good man. There will still be business enough.” – Abraham Lincoln
“You can’t shake hands with a clenched fist.” — Indira Gandhi
“If necessity is the mother of invention, conflict is its father.” — Kenneth Kaye
The information contained in this site is for general guidance on matters of interest only. We are not a law firm, but rather an organization of third-party neutrals dedicated to helping you solve your disputes through mediation and facilitation.
© 2017 Alan Ehrlich & Mediate-NJ LLC
All photography © Alan R. Ehrlich