intervention in a dispute in order to resolve it; arbitration.

The Role of the Mediator

Unlike a judge or an arbitrator, the mediator won’t decide the outcome of the case. The mediator's job is to help the disputants resolve the problem through a process that encourages each side to:

  • air disputes

  • identify the strengths and weaknesses of their case

  • understand that accepting less than expected is the hallmark of a fair settlement, and

  • agree on a satisfactory solution


The primary goal is for all parties to work out a solution they can live with and trust. Because the mediator has no authority to impose a decision, nothing will be decided unless both parties agree to it. The process focuses on solving problems in an economical manner—for instance, taking into account the cost of litigation rather than uncovering the truth or imposing legal rules.


That’s not to say that the merits of the case aren’t factored into the analysis—they are. The mediator will assess the case and highlight the weaknesses of each side, the point being to hit home the risks of faring far worse in front of a judge or jury, and that the penalty or award imposed will be out of the control of the litigants.