Many of our cases end in the courtroom. Sometimes, the only way to end a dispute over a will, a trust or a power of attorney is to find out which side the judge or jury believes should prevail. But a growing number of courts throughout Texas now require parties locked in a dispute to explore alternative methods of resolution before their big day in court.
Mediation has become one of the most well-known dispute resolution alternatives. For better or worse, many Texas judges simply will not schedule a bench or jury trial until the parties to the lawsuit have at least attempted to resolve the case at mediation. With this in mind, the mediation process has become a part of the path to success that we guide our clients down. Preparing our clients to mediate is just as important as preparing our clients for trial.
At mediation, a third-party is agreed upon or chosen by the Court. This third-party – the mediator – should bring at least one of two skill sets to the case. First, the mediator should have a firm knowledge base in the area of law that the case involves. Second, the mediator should have a proven track record of successfully negotiating compromises between two warring parties. Fortunately, there are many skilled probate attorney mediators throughout Texas.
Mediation is typically a daylong process of settlement negotiation. Each party sets up in their own private and confidential area, and the mediator spends his or her time going back and forth between the rooms to try to broker a compromise. Good mediators will tell you that a successful mediation occurs when both parties leave the experience at least a little bit unhappy – meaning that they both gave up more than they wanted to. Not every case is right for mediation, but many clients will gladly walk away a little bit unhappy if it means that the lawsuit ends around a conference table with a compromise as opposed to a “winner take all” opportunity in a courtroom.