Why Mediation?

With over 30 years of litigation, business and conflict resolution experience, N. Janine Dickey understands judicial system and arbitration frustrations:  protracted delays, unreasonable adversaries, inflexible Judges, burdened court calendars, escalating costs, the unpredictability of juries, matters spiraling  “out of control”, and the emotional stresses inherent in a heightened adversarial process.

What advantages are specific to mediation?

  • Party Control and Client Satisfaction: Parties have direct input into the parameters of informational exchange, scheduling, and resolution options.  Parties avoid the risk of an unpredictable jury, judge, or arbitrator.  The inherent “buy-in” generates solutions that parties will respect.
  • Cost and Time Efficiency:  Mediator facilitated discovery encourages primary focus on critical issues and appropriate case management of documents, depositions, expert reports, and e-discovery. Parties can minimize business interruption and avoid protracted delays.
  • Customization of Process: Each mediation process is uniquely tailored for optimal results.  Consideration is given to the substantive nature of the dispute, complexity of issues, amount in controversy, needs of the parties and requests of counsel.
  • Creative Win-Win Solutions:  Identifying underlying interests and discernment of future consequences results in practical resolution options; the proverbial “pie” can be expanded in a Win-Win solution.

What makes a good mediator?

A good mediator possesses critical skill sets:

  • Analytical Skills: A good mediator quickly grasps complex issues and identifies underlying interests. She effectively assists parties and counsel to analyze the strengths and risks of legal positions and business realities. A good mediator recognizes and handles emotional components, which often occur after prolonged adversarial stalemate. A good mediator thinks outside the box, offers an objective perspective and breaks conflict barriers.
  • People Skills and understanding of Psychology :  A good mediator is intuitive and can “read between the lines.” She must be able to gain the trust of parties and counsel. A good mediator is compassionate and empathetic, and promotes party understanding.  She can identify psychological barriers, in order to guide the parties successfully through the process.
  • Leadership Skills:  Excellent leadership skills are essential to command control of the mediation environment.  This promotes party confidence, and assists resolution, particularly when aggressive positional bargaining, heightened emotions, or power-issues are present.
  • Mediation Expertise: Mediation skills and techniques are honed through training, commitment and experience. Many self-proclaimed “mediators” are attorneys or other professionals who merely dabble in mediation as a means to supplement their primary profession.  Retired Judges frequently step out of the courtroom and immediately re-label themselves “mediator”  without adequate mediation training.  Mediation skills and tools are fundamentally different than judicial skills.
  • Legal & Business Experience:  A breadth and depth of legal, business, and civic backgrounds are invaluable to understanding legal and business practicalities.

Why is “Accreditation” Important?

Unlike other professions there are no national or state certifications for mediators- therefore persons with vastly different qualifications  can hold themselves out as “mediators.” Many self-proclaimed “mediators,” including retired judges, have limited mediation skills training and even less actual experience conducting mediations.  Accreditation assures you a vetted background including:

  • Verified education and professional credentials
  • Extensive and continuing mediation skills training
  • Significant experience conducting actual mediations
  • Rigorous peer evaluation including personal character, references, mediation knowledge and skills,  and  effectiveness of results

How do I choose a good mediator?

Mediation is interdisciplinary, thus in addition to a legal background, effective mediators must be skilled communicators, creative and experienced in the mediation process. Consequently, trial attorneys, arbitrators, and retired judges are not necessarily good mediators as the skill sets are very different.

Identify professional and accredited mediators through recognized organizations:  National Academy of Distinguished Neutrals (NADN) (,  New Jersey Association of Professional Mediators (NJAPM) (, New Jersey State Bar Association (  Visit the mediator’s website and carefully evaluate his or her CV.    Contact the mediator and inquire into experience,  background and mediation style.   You should immediately sense trust and credibility and a preliminary rapport.

When is the optimal time to mediate?   

The optimal time is very case (and client) specific. Mediations can take place pre-litigation, on the eve of trial, or anywhere in between.

Earlier is often better as:

  • Financial costs and emotional stress increase as a case progresses
  • Parties become more entrenched and invested making resolution more difficult
  • Experts tend to unrealistically pump up expectations

However, party and counsel must be adequately prepared for mediation to be successful:

  • Facts must be sufficiently developed
  • Legal merits must be understood
  • Insurance coverage and carrier issues must be considered

What types of cases are appropriate for mediation? 

“[Mediation] cuts across almost every type of dispute or transaction that a lawyer may encounter in practice.” Frankel & Stark, The Practice of Mediation (Aspen Publishers 2008).

Is mediation appropriate for complex disputes?

Mediation is ideal for most complex disputes.  The mediator can play a “discovery master” role for appropriate discovery exchange.  The flexibility of the mediation process accommodates multi-party cases with cross-interests and claims. Freed from procedural, statutory and remedial award constraints, creative solutions to complex problems can be fashioned.

Can mediation be used in-house to resolve organizational conflicts?

Absolutely. I work with owners, managers and human resource (HR) departments to resolve intra-organizational conflicts. Bringing in an outside neutral increases the perception of un-biased fairness and can diffuse a potentially volatile situation from erupting into litigation. Moreover, the buy-in from all parties, which is inherent in a mediated solution, enhances the working relationship and productivity going forward.

How do settlement and award rules differ between litigation, arbitration and mediation?

An arbitration award mimics a judicial award. The court or arbitrator evaluates the evidence presented and renders an award.  Awards are typically monetary- limiting creative and practical options.   Court and arbitration decisions typically create winners and losers resulting in one or more party’s dissatisfaction and dragging the matter on through an appellate process.

Mediated settlements are controlled and agreed by the parties,  not forced upon them by a judge, jury or arbitrator.  A mediator encourages direct input from the parties and facilitates out-of-the-box thinking, enabling the parties to arrive at creative solutions unavailable in court.

Direct participation and self-determination of parties results in a sense of buy-in,  greater satisfaction, and an enduring resolution.  This unique benefit is invaluable when relationships will continue post-conflict.

What are the cost comparisons between litigation, arbitration and mediation?

Litigation and arbitration typically involve extensive discovery exchange (documents, interrogatories, depositions, expert reports, and electronic discovery) as well as costly pre-trial motion practice.  Discovery is often over-inclusive and prolonged.

As your mediator, I case-manage a focused information exchange prior to an initial mediation session.   The cost and time savings in avoiding excessive depositions, expert reports, voluminous e-discovery and motion practice can be enormous.  Parties also avoid repeated and prolonged business interruption inevitable with protracted judicial delays.

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| Phone: 908-295-7900
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| Phone: 908-295-7900

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