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Joshua Newville, Minnesota Employment Lawyer, Civil Rights Attorney, and Mediator

Mediation is a voluntary, non-binding process in which a mediator assists and guides parties involved in a conflict toward their own resolution. A professional mediator encourages parties to share information about their positions and helps the parties explore innovative means of coming together to resolve the dispute.

Minnesota Mediator For Employment Law and Civil Rights Disputes

As a mediator in Minnesota and western Wisconsin, I use my experience and training to understand the dispute. By brainstorming and collaborating with each party, I work to understand their underlying interests and help them assess the legal merits and likely outcomes of their arguments. I am a Rule 114 Qualified Neutral in the State of Minnesota and have more than a decade of experience litigating employment law and civil rights cases.

What is civil mediation?

Civil mediation is a form of alternative dispute resolution (ADR) that is often used in civil litigation cases to resolve disputes outside of court. It involves a neutral third party, the mediator, who facilitates a negotiation between the parties in an attempt to help them reach a mutually agreeable resolution to their dispute.

What does the mediation process look like? 

Each mediation is different, but the process generally looks something like this:

  1. Pre-Mediation: The process usually begins with each party and the mediator having a pre-mediation conference (often by phone) to discuss the basics of the case, identify the key issues, and prepare for the mediation session. Each party may also submit a confidential mediation brief to the mediator to outline their perspective on the dispute.

  2. Mediation Session: During the mediation session, each party typically gets an opportunity to present their side of the story in an opening statement. The mediator may then facilitate a discussion between the parties, or may break the parties into separate rooms and shuttle between them, conveying messages, offers, and counteroffers (a process known as "caucusing").

  3. Negotiation: The goal of the mediation is for the parties to negotiate a settlement agreement. The mediator does not make decisions or impose solutions, but rather facilitates the conversation, helps clarify issues and interests, encourages empathy, and helps the parties explore potential solutions that would be mutually beneficial.

  4. Settlement Agreement: If the parties reach a settlement, the terms of the agreement are usually put in writing and signed by the parties. This agreement is legally binding and can be enforced in court if one party does not comply.

  5. Impasse: If the parties cannot reach an agreement, they are at an "impasse," and the dispute may proceed to arbitration or litigation, depending on the circumstances and any prior agreements between the parties.


How can a Minnesota mediator help parties with their legal dispute? 

A mediator can play a critical role in the resolution of civil disputes. Here's how:

  • Facilitating Communication: The mediator can help the parties communicate more effectively by encouraging respectful and productive conversation, helping parties articulate their interests and concerns, and managing any emotionally charged exchanges.

  • Identifying Interests: The mediator can help the parties identify their underlying interests (as opposed to their stated positions), which can open up new possibilities for resolution.

  • Developing Options: The mediator can help the parties brainstorm and evaluate potential solutions. 

  • Evaluative Analysis: Where appropriate, a mediator who is experienced in the relevant area of law may also be able to help each party by providing a neutral evaluation of the case.

  • Promoting Voluntary Resolution: The mediator can help the parties feel ownership of the resolution by ensuring that any settlement agreement is voluntarily agreed upon by all parties.

  • Confidentiality: The mediator helps maintain the confidentiality of the process, which can make parties more comfortable discussing sensitive issues and can protect the parties if the dispute proceeds to trial.

In sum, civil mediation can be a cost-effective, efficient, and less adversarial alternative to litigation. It allows the parties to maintain more control over the resolution of their dispute, and can preserve relationships and confidentiality. However, the success of mediation often depends on the parties' willingness to negotiate in good faith, as well as the skill and experience of the mediator.

Related Topics:

Minnesota Employment Law Attorney
Minnesota Civil Rights Attorney
Minnesota Legal Investigations Attorney
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