At its most basic level, mediation is about maintaining some semblance of harmony, according to Joëlle Khouzam.
“It’s not about who’s right or wrong, or winning or losing. It’s mostly about allowing the parties to get back to whatever they were doing before the legal dispute distracted them,” says Joëlle.
Her clients find mediation useful in a number of circumstances. “In cases that may have relatively smaller dollar amounts at issue or fewer complex issues, mediation can be helpful early on and can avoid or at least cut down the resources that parties might otherwise have to invest in discovery,” she says. “The process of exchanging information can often help simplify what might have taken a month or two to learn through formal discovery, and the parties can react to it and perhaps avoid having to deal with surprise witnesses or unfavorable evidence later.”
She has also seen mediation be particularly successful when strong personalities have difficulty accepting their own counsel’s assessment of a case’s strengths and weaknesses, or when parties’ backs are to the wall with a fast-approaching trial date that will place their fate in the hands of complete strangers. Success requires a mediator with the ability to listen, to be respectful to all parties, and to focus on the parties’ stated end goals. “A heavy dose of patience and grit doesn’t hurt, either,” she says.
Joëlle is a member of Bricker & Eckler’s ADR Services group, which focuses on providing mediators, arbitrators and experienced neutrals. A partner in the firm’s Employment Law, Health Care and Public Law groups, she has participated in mediations involving employment, personal injury, commercial litigation, and multi-party litigation, involving private-sector and public-sector litigants. Joëlle has also been called upon by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission to help resolve backlogged cases.