Reaching Solutions Through Alternate Dispute Resolution in California
Litigation is not always the most efficient or cost-effective means of reaching a solution in a legal dispute. Alternate dispute resolution can help you achieve your objectives in a conflict without going to court.
As a mediation lawyer, I know that alternative dispute resolution is often the best means of solving my clients’ legal problems. I also understand that I cannot act as a neutral party when advocating for my clients’ best interests. With 36 years of litigation and mediation experience, I am passionate about helping people reach solutions without going to court. I currently serve on the Riverside County Superior Court Civil Mediation Panel, and I can help you reach mediated agreements for many types of legal disputes.
Why Choose Mediation?
Although it is sometimes necessary and unavoidable, litigation should typically be viewed as a last resort. You should aim to exhaust every other means of resolving a conflict before deciding to litigate.
Going to trial is not only expensive, but it is also risky. Jurors often make decisions based on emotions, while judges apply the exact letter of the law. The people whose lives are most affected by the outcome have very little control over the decisions made.
As a mediation attorney, I empower clients and their legal representatives to take advantage of the many benefits of alternative dispute resolution, including:
- Cost efficiency. Going to court can be costly. Choosing mediation often saves clients tens of thousands of dollars in legal fees and expenses.
- Enhanced control. Mediation does not involve a jury made up of strangers. You and the other parties involved will determine the outcome of the dispute. You also have the right to withdraw at any time.
- Confidentiality. Court proceedings are generally a matter of public record. The contents and events of mediation are kept private unless all parties agree otherwise.
- Convenience. When a matter is litigated, the trial will take place in the appropriate courtroom. This requires parties to repeatedly travel to a fixed location at set times. Mediation can take place wherever you choose, whenever you choose.
- Faster results. You will often have to wait a protracted amount of time for a trial date, and court proceedings can last weeks or months. Mediation can begin at the parties’ convenience and conclude when a resolution is reached.
- More amicable resolutions. Because you will work directly with the other parties in a conflict, there will be inherently more opportunities for personal reconciliation and emotional healing.
Unlike litigation, mediation can potentially be handled relatively informally and fluidly. Each party involved in the dispute – plus their legal representation – will appoint a mediator to handle the alternative dispute resolution process. The mediation will take place at a location convenient to all parties, but the venue will preferably contain multiple rooms for caucuses and joint sessions.
Mediation is adaptable to the specific needs of your dispute, but the process typically involves the following steps:
- Introductions. At the first meeting, the appointed mediator will introduce themselves and explain the ground rules for how the negotiations will work.
- Opening statements. Each side of the dispute will have an opportunity to provide their assessment and view of the conflict. Crucially, they must be allowed to explain their take without interruption. These statements should clearly establish each party’s position in the matter.
- Joint session. The mediator will guide the parties through a conversation about how to reach a resolution. This will generally involve asking questions about each party’s position and presenting informal counterarguments. The mediator will work to keep everyone on-task and help each party understand the other’s point of view. By the end of the joint session, it should be clear what obstacles are keeping the parties from reaching a resolution.
- Caucuses. If an agreement cannot be reached during the joint session, the mediator may ask each side to debrief and discuss what has transpired so far in private meetings. The mediator will participate in these meetings and work to better understand each party’s position and concerns. In some cases, the mediator can pledge to keep what is said in these sequestered sessions confidential.
- Negotiation and resolution. The mediator will reconvene the parties and request proposals (and counterproposals) from each side that work to address concerns and impediments. The ideal proposal will achieve at least some of each party’s objectives. If an acceptable proposal cannot be reached, the mediator may choose to initiate additional caucuses, and the process will loop and repeat until a solution can be found.
My own legal practice focuses primarily on personal injury, real estate, and financial elder abuse litigation. Though I have decades of litigation experience, I have also mediated cases involving many areas of the law, including disputes involving personal injury, real estate, lemon laws, trusts, and elder abuse. As your Temecula mediation lawyer, I am prepared to help all parties negotiate an advantageous settlement that will achieve goals and help you avoid the costs and headaches of litigation.
While I am primarily a litigator, I can also assist you with alternative dispute resolution methods that can help you avoid going to court. Choosing mediation can potentially save you tens of thousands of dollars in court fees and legal expenses. It is also generally faster, more convenient, and confidential. I have mediated numerous cases involving a variety of legal areas and am prepared to serve as your mediator. I will oversee diplomatic negotiations and work with all parties to facilitate a mutually agreeable solution to whatever dispute you are facing.
I provide the quality representation you would expect from a big, successful law firm at reasonable costs. I have 36 years of California legal experience, and I personally handle every case.
Although I am a litigation attorney, I often recommend mediation or negotiation to resolve disputes. Filing a lawsuit and arguing your case in court is expensive. Through these processes, we can come up with creative solutions that are tailored to your individual situation.
When someone consults with me, that typically means that they have experienced a major life event. As a result, I genuinely care about helping that person reach the right solution. To do this, I always:
Listen to my clients' concerns and priorities.
Take the time to understand how the situation came about.
Help clients find the most cost-effective solution to their problems.
Provide honest advice with compassion.
Legal disputes can be emotionally and financially draining. In 1986, when I founded the Menifee-based Law Offices of Rob Schelling, A Professional Corporation, it was my goal to build a client-focused law firm to help people reach solutions that meet their legal needs while minimizing the stress and cost.
I am determined to find the outcome that is best for you. Predicting the outcome of any dispute is not entirely possible, but experience does play a vital role in navigating your options and choices.