Steve O'Hara is available as a mediator in select cases as well as an expert witness and lawyering coach. Here he provides some comments:
Litigation is like a cancer. It can consume you. The last thing you need at the end of a long day - and day after day - is to go to your mailbox and find thick envelopes containing your copies of pages and pages of arguments filed in Court.
Litigation can make its way into your home, taking peace and mind-rest away.
In the beginning you may be psyched to do battle in Court. But as litigation goes on and on and on the toll on everyone can be beyond imagination when the suit was filed.
In private disputes, consider mediation as a way to obtain resolution, whether or not a Court has already been called upon to provide relief. In mediation, you can have a measure of direct control over resolving the matter. You can speak and be heard, which is all some parties require before they are ready to settle.
Take trust and estate litigation as an example. Being able to speak and be heard can help satisfy a disgruntled beneficiary. A disgruntled beneficiary, in my experience, has two characteristics. One, the beneficiary is angry. Two, the beneficiary is on a sincere quest for the truth. Unfortunately, anger can impair the disgruntled beneficiary's ability to evaluate information, and thus the disgruntled beneficiary may never be satisfied.
Indeed, anger can be dangerous in litigation - just like in contact sports, such as boxing where an opponent can get hurt or even killed. Anger in litigation can kill an opposing party with worry and certainly can kill assets in trusts and estates by causing their liquidation to pay attorney fees and costs and expert witness fees and costs.
Mediation, and particularly the opportunity to speak and be heard, can reduce if not eliminate a party's anger and thus hasten settlement.
In my experience, litigation is like a cancer. Mediation can help sidestep the cancer ward; it can help rescue parties from the depths of litigation.
Consider also the 1975 fight between Muhammad Ali and Joe Frazier in the Philippines. YouTube that fight, where both parties landed damaging blows.
In litigation, the other side will get punches in, even lucky punches. There will be a price to pay. Do the math. Ali got the win but was never the same.
Is litigation worth the price?
Mediation may sidestep profound damage and introduce elegance into the equation.
The foregoing comments are not legal advice. Non-lawyers must seek the counsel of a licensed attorney in all legal matters.
Steven T. O'Hara
O'Hara Tax Lawyer LLC