What is Mediation?
Mediation is a voluntary, confidential and flexible process that helps disputing parties to fashion their own agreements. Agreements reached in mediation can often meet the needs of all involved parties. Disputants are more likely to comply with an agreement that they themselves negotiated. The confidentiality of the mediation process is protected by M.G.L. Chapter 233, Section 23C.
What Happens in Mediation?
The Massachusetts Rehabilitation Commission (MRC) Mediation Program includes one session lasting up to 4 hours, inclusive of mediator travel and preparation time. If the parties are near agreement, the mediator and the parties may agree to extend the session, or engage in post-session telephone calls, for up to one additional hour.
The mediation session begins with a joint meeting of the parties and the mediator. At this time, the mediator explains the mediation process, answers questions and asks each party to describe the dispute. After meeting jointly with the parties, the mediator usually meets individually with each party. Occasionally, the mediator speaks with the parties by telephone after the mediation to further discuss issues.
During individual sessions, the mediator listens to the parties' concerns, asks questions to learn more about the dispute and helps the parties to identify areas for possible agreement. Once the mediator has this information, the mediator assists the parties to negotiate an agreement by:
- assisting the parties to exchange information;
- clarifying misunderstandings and ambiguities;
- facilitating the evaluation of the strengths and weaknesses of each party's case;
- exploring options for mutual gains and realistic trade-offs;
- offering a safe way to test proposals without committing to them; and
- enabling parties to shape their own settlement terms leading to a mutually acceptable resolution
Number, Duration of Sessions and Fees
One session will be held lasting up to 4 hours inclusive of mediator travel and preparation time. If the parties are near agreement, the mediator and the parties may agree to extend the session, or engage in post-session telephone calls, for up to one additional hour. MRC, through an agreement with MODR, will be responsible for the costs of the mediation including special accommodations.
Who Should Attend the Mediation Session?
The parties to the dispute and any other persons needed to agree to a settlement should attend the mediation session.
Who are the Mediators?
The mediators are drawn from MODR's panel of highly skilled private sector dispute resolution professionals. The mediators on the panel were chosen through a rigorous screening process and completed a series of specialized training sessions. MODR assigns mediators to mediate based on the needs of the case and the mediator's qualifications. It also supervises the mediators and monitors each mediation.
How to Prepare for the Mediation Session
Parties must sign an "Agreement to Participate in Mediation" in order to invoke confidentiality protections. The agreement outlines the responsibilities of the parties and the parameters of the mediation process. In some instances, disputants may be asked to submit a brief written outline describing the facts, issues and negotiation history of the case to the mediator in advance of the session. The outline is confidential and provides the mediator with each party's perspective of the dispute.
This information is provided by the Massachusetts Rehabilitation Commission.