Mediation & Dispute Resolution
What is Mediation?
Mediation is Not Arbitration
Many people confuse mediation with arbitration. Arbitration is a dispute resolution system in which the disputing people hire an arbitrator to settle the case like a judge concludes a lawsuit. A mediator works with each group to help the people settle their disputes by agreement.
A key idea behind mediation is that many disputes result from people seeing controversial things from different perspectives. A mediator can help each party understand the other party’s viewpoint and then discover ways to solve problems that offer better solutions than the parties could achieve through a lawsuit. In many cases, each party discovers better outcomes through cooperation than through arguing.
Mediation to Avoid Litigation
Many family members and business associates can resolve disputes without litigation under the guidance of a skillful mediator. Although mediation helps resolve disputes, adversaries sometimes also heal their broken relationships through the process.
Who Can Mediate?
Civil mediators are lawyers that have received advanced training and registration as mediators. The Indiana Office of Admissions and Continuing Education (ACE) accredits mediation trainers to train lawyers for civil mediation registration. ACE also maintains a searchable registry for registered domestic relations mediators (marital or parenting disputes) and civil mediators (for all other kinds of mediation) on its website at https://courtapps.in.gov/mediatorsearch. More information about ACE’s mediator regulation appears on its website at https://www.in.gov/judiciary/ace/2331.htm.
How Mediators Work
A mediator’s neutral and non-threatening stance enables the mediator to guide each party toward a negotiated agreement. The mediator also helps moderate negotiation discussions to avoid emotional meltdowns and maintain respectful and constructive dialogue among the parties.
Lawyers usually engage mediators during litigation. Adverse parties can also save precious time and money by hiring mediators in early negotiations to redirect conversations toward non-litigation solutions. Sometimes it just takes an objective third perspective to help frustrated parties and lawyers find a clear path to resolution.
People can hire mediators even if they are not negotiating through lawyers. For example, family business owners can hire a mediator as a consultant when sticking points seem to hold up their decisions.
Mediators often bring their other professional experiences into their mediation practices and rely on those experiences to help adversaries find creative dispute resolution opportunities.
Jeff R. Hawkins: A Mediator With Broad Practice Experience
Jeff R. Hawkins is a registered Indiana civil mediator with decades of church and professional association leadership experience (including President of the Indiana State Bar Association from October 2014 to October 2015). He has represented families, farmers, small business owners, banks, hospitals, schools, cities, towns, public utilities, and churches for more than two decades. His business law practice draws on training for his undergraduate degree in corporate finance in Indiana University’s Kelly School of Business. He has lobbied for farmers against the coal industry and served the estate planning and probate court representation needs of people throughout Southern Indiana. He is a Trust & Estate Specialty Board Certified Indiana Trust & Estate Lawyer (past Co-Chair of that board) and a Fellow of the American College of Trust and Estate Counsel. He is a frequent estate, trust, and elder law lecturer for continuing legal education conferences.
That broad, extensive, and widely renowned experience gives Jeff unique perspectives and insights in many subjects. He often sees creative solutions that adversaries cannot find because he understands relationships in complicated legal matters that seem unrelated to people with less expansive practice experience. He loves to see tension dissolve in peoples’ faces when they realize that they can end disputes without expensive and bitterly hostile courtroom battles.