How Is a Mediator Different From a Judge?


One common misconception when people think about mediation is that the mediator appointed to manage the case reviews the facts and renders a decision just as a judge would. That is arbitration, not mediation. This confusion might lead some people to avoid trying mediation when it would actually be a good way to resolve an ongoing legal dispute.

The main purpose for having a neutral third party in the room during mediation is actually not to have someone to present your case to, but rather to have someone facilitating the conversation. Fort Smith mediation allows parties to negotiate effectively without feeling the need to become entrenched in a “position” (a response that is quite common in litigation). Allowing the mediation to unfold based on needs and interests as opposed to these positions can alter the tone of the conversation entirely.

The mediator in your case does not review all of the facts and hand down a decision. While he or she might present information to you that help you re-evaluate your position within a case, the mediator does not make the call about the agreement, or impose the terms of a settlement. He or she helps you determine the most effective way to arrive at a resolution in the most expedient way possible. This might involve cooperating with the other party, but mediation gives both parties much more control to craft both the structure of the dispute resolution process and the terms of the final agreement.

A mediator is not like a judge, and you should approach your mediation sessions with an open mind about how this alterative forum of resolution could help your case.