Mediation is a form of alternative dispute resolution (ADR) that emphasizes cooperative problem solving. It can be especially useful in resolving partnership disputes and shareholder disputes, in which the parties often have mutual interests. Mediation can be faster, less expensive, and less damaging than litigation. Of course, the process is only likely to prove fruitful if you are properly prepared to mediate your partnership dispute.
Five Steps to Prepare for Mediation of a Partnership Dispute
- Choose the Right Mediator for Your Case
Not all mediators are created equal. In mediating a dispute, business partners will have an opportunity to select a mediator whose style and experience is the right fit for your specific circumstances. For instance, if you are involved in a partnership dispute centered on commercial real estate, it is recommended that you find a mediator who has experience in the real estate sector and/or handling real estate disputes.
- Understand the Rules and Process of Mediation
Make sure you take the time to understand exactly how the mediation process works—including the rules and regulations that govern mediation. While mediation proceedings are private under California law (California Evidence Code § 1119), it is generally best to protect yourself with an additional confidentiality agreement. Business partners entering mediation should always do so in good faith. A collaborative mindset can help produce results.
- Gather and Organize All Relevant Documents, Records, and Evidence
Proper organization is one of the keys to success in mediation. As an example, if you and your business partner are mediating a dispute related to a specific real estate development project, it is imperative that you have all records and information pertaining to that project at your disposal, ready to go. Too many mediations fall apart because the parties are not fully prepared.
- Work With an Attorney to Create a Comprehensive Road Map for the Case
You should consult with a partnership dispute lawyer well before the mediation starts. Your attorney can help you put together a comprehensive road map for your case. Among other things, this includes identifying the key issues in the dispute, analyzing and researching legal matters, evaluating the strengths and weaknesses of each position, and preparing a case summary that outlines the key facts and arguments.
- Develop a Negotiation Strategy Focused on Results
Finally, you must develop a negotiation strategy. Your lawyer can help you clarify your position, the wants and needs of the counterparty, and the options for mutual gain. To be effective, a negotiating strategy should always be narrowly tailored to the partnership dispute. Ultimately, the goal of mediation is to get the best possible outcome in your case. Often, a settlement is the best way to resolve a partnership dispute. Of course, there are exceptions. A mediation is a voluntary process, parties always retain their right to pursue litigation.
Contact an Experienced Partnership Dispute Lawyer
Wagenseller Law Firm is led by Laine Wagenseller, a commercial litigator with extensive experience handling partnership disputes. If you have questions about business mediation, we are here to help. To set up a strictly confidential consultation with an experienced commercial litigator, please contact our law firm at (213) 805-7445. With an office in Los Angeles, we represent clients throughout Southern California, including in Santa Monica, Pacific Palisades, Beverly Hills, Long Beach, Pasadena, and throughout Los Angeles.