There are five parts to the mediation process:
Introductory remarks – The mediator makes introductions, describes his/her role, defines ground rules, and explains the voluntary and confidential nature of mediation.
Storytelling – Each side gets uninterrupted time to tell their side of the story. Sometimes a potential solution is offered by one or both parties as their stories are told. Clients occasionally have attorneys with them, but most often do not.
Joint Session – The mediator guides the parties through a discussion with a series of questions or by summarizing and re-framing what each party has said about the situation. Drawing out this information may help perspectives shift or solutions become apparent.
Brainstorming or Examining Offers – If no potential solutions are brought forward, the mediator will brainstorm with the clients to generate possible options. If an offer is made by either party, the mediator helps the parties determine if it is realistic and how the solution would be implemented.
Agreement Writing – If an agreement is reached, the mediator helps the parties commit their intentions to writing. Details that describe who, what, when, where, and how are usually written into these agreements. If both parties accept the proposal, the agreement is signed and becomes a legal contract. Not all mediations end in agreement. If no solution is found, the parties retain the right to pursue a traditional legal option through the courts. About 70% of mediations reach agreement; more than 90% of those that reach agreement are completed in one session.