In addition to being an attorney, I am also a Certified Mediator under the Oklahoma District Court Mediation Act. I have conducted more than 200 mediations in the Tulsa County Early Settlement Program and in the Tulsa County Small Claims Court. Sometimes, mediations are court-ordered, for example when a lawsuit has already been filed and the judge wants the parties to try to reach a resolution with the help of a mediator before a courthouse trial is required. In contrast, private mediation is a voluntary procedure that is not court-ordered. Private mediation may be conducted after the disputing parties have hired attorneys and/or after a lawsuit is filed. The purpose of the mediation at this stage is to try to resolve the dispute before an actual trial of the dispute is required. In this setting, the mediator works directly with the attorneys to schedule and conduct the mediation on agreeable terms. Likewise, private mediation can also take place before attorneys are hired or lawsuits are filed. In this instance, the mediator will work directly with each party to schedule and conduct the mediation on mutually agreeable terms. Either way, mediation is a voluntary and confidential vehicle for reaching an amicable resolution of a dispute that avoids the stress, cost, delay, and financial costs of going to trial. Mediation is often effective, as long as both sides are willing to work together to find an agreeable solution. The mediator’s job is to act as a neutral referee and to help facilitate a settlement agreement between the parties. If too much tension exists between the parties, the mediation can be conducted with each party in a separate room, permitting the mediator to travel between each room to reach an agreement. While the mediator does not have the authority to make binding decisions without the permission of the parties, a successful mediation does result in a binding and enforceable agreement. Thus, mediation enables the disputing parties to resolve their conflict privately, without requiring a judge or jury to dictate the outcome publicly.If you have a legal dispute with another person or with a business, and if you would like to avoid the cost, stress, and delay of litigation, contact me about scheduling a private mediation. Mediations are conducted on an hourly rate of $90.00 per hour. This expense is typically shared equally by the disputing parties. The mediation can be conducted at a neutral location and can also be conducted after regular work hours or on weekends to suit the scheduling demands of all parties. The cost of mediation is overwhelmingly less than the cost of litigation and disputes are resolved much faster with mediation than with litigation.