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MEDIATION ON THE RISE

By: Dennis R. Stout

The budget crises in the State of California continues to affect the court system, particularly the courts’ ability to dispose of cases in an efficient manner. Litigants should expect to see a back log of court cases due to the lack of funding, lack of jurists, and lack of support staff. As cases continue to be filed, continue to sit, and trial dates continue to be scheduled further and further in the future, the ability of plaintiffs to settle cases without the pressure of a trial date will also increase.

The role of private mediation is ever expanding, and will more likely dominate the settlement process as the court system continues to deteriorate. Litigants can now find mediators specialized to specific cases and available for mediation at all phases of the litigation process, earlier, as opposed to later. Early mediation by litigants can avoid unnecessary costs and lengthy delays within the court system.

As with any effective settlement or litigation strategy, preparation is the key. Early preparation of cases for mediation will assist clients with an effective disposition of their cases. We are also beginning to see mediation with insurance companies directly, and with their in-house counsel, even prior to the filing of a lawsuit, in an effort to avoid the anticipated delays and costs forced upon litigants by the court system in the State of California.

Early retention of counsel, proper preparation, and the selection of an effective mediator are all keys to a successful resolution of a case. The attorneys at Heiting & Irwin have litigated, whether by trial or mediation, hundreds if not thousands of cases. We are prepared to proceed with the evolving mediation process to assist all of our clients to get the best results available in their particular case. The key again is early contact and early and thorough preparation of cases for resolution.

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