This is a busy year for estate and trust mediation - the alternative dispute process in which the parties to a lawsuit meet with a neutral third-party, often a retired judge, in an effort to settle the case. Our litigation practice includes California's largest urban areas and so, not coincidentally, does our presence at mediations. While mediations can be dramatically different there are some constants - including strong emotions.
It's the day before mediation. We often meet with or have phone calls with our clients. There are some standard questions from our clients: What should I wear? What time should I be there? Do we have to sit at the same table as my brother, sister or whoever caused the estate dispute? I want you to know that I won't settle for less than (name the number). We'll walk out if we're offended by their offer? Doesn't their attorney know that they're lying? I'm thinking about not going. Can I bring my dog? My son? My friend? I want to bring pictures of my mom to show the mediator - is that ok?
We attorneys too have our share of emotions. Am I prepared for this mediation? Do I know the law? Do I know the facts? What is this mediator like? Is he a friend of my opponent? Is he known to be fair? What's her track record like - does she get cases settled? What do the mediation offices look like? Will the air conditioning work? How far is the mediation from my hotel? What's the other attorney like? Will this be an opening offer of $2 million and a counter offer of $2000? What happens if we're at a standstill? Does the other side understand our case? Its strengths? Its weaknesses? What are the next steps if mediation doesn't work? Will we get close to resolution during business hours? Is this one of those cases that drags on until 11 o'clock at night. Do we have a backup plan for a local hotel room?
Ok - you get the idea. There are strong emotions the day before a mediation. There are also strong emotions during and initially after a mediation. Such emotions are almost always preferable to the harsh realities of trial - a process never enjoyed by the parties and only partially enjoyed by the lawyers - if at all.
Hackard Law represents clients throughout the state of California, including in Los Angeles, Sacramento, Alameda, Santa Clara and San Diego. If you'd like to learn more about the possibilities of mediation to restore your beneficiary rights, call us today at (916) 313-3030. We'll be glad to see how we can help you.