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Not every business dispute has to end up in a courtroom. In fact, it may be better to make sure that it stays out of the public eye in order to preserve a Pennsylvania company’s reputation. Fortunately, it is not necessary to litigate a dispute. Instead, the parties could agree to mediation. Understanding the basics of the process could illustrate why it has become a popular way to resolve issues under a variety of circumstances.

During the first mediation session, the mediator will explain the process and the roles of everyone involved — i.e. the mediator, the parties and the attorneys. More than likely, each party will be asked to tell his or her side of the story. Each party receives the opportunity to do so without interruption.

Thereafter, the mediator will attempt to identify the core issues involved in the dispute so that each party understands where the other is coming from. The parties then separate in order to talk to the mediator privately regarding what each of them expects as an outcome. From there, the goal is to find a satisfactory middle ground with which the parties can live. Then an agreement is put into writing in compliance with Pennsylvania law.

One of the primary advantages of mediation is the the parties decide the outcome in a far less adversarial environment than a courtroom. Since this alternative dispute resolution method encourages cooperation and compromise, the parties may even salvage their working relationship. In addition, the proceedings are kept confidential and typically cost less than going through the litigation process. One thing to keep in mind is that the mediator does not represent either party, so having independent legal counsel remains an important part of the process.