Free Mediation?/Martin Rosenfeld, JD

Posted on April 3, 2016


I read a small article that described a new mediation program in Encinitas, CA. A new mediation program had been created to resolve neighbor disputes such as overhanging trees, fences, and blocked views. The pilot program offered free mediation. Why would mediators offer their services free of charge? Obviously, it is good advertising for the participating mediators. But, just as likely, mediators are happy to use their skills in helping to mediate disputes and legal battles. This theory is supported by my unscientific observation that mediators tend to be a very optimistic and satisfied group of professionals.

As a counterweight, a recent study called the “Pulse of the Legal Profession” surveyed attorneys. Only 50% reported being satisfied with their jobs. Is it possible to conclude that mediating disputes leads to greater professional fulfillment than does litigating disputes? As a mediator, I find such a conclusion quite plausible. Mediate don’t litigate.