Arizona State University (ASU) – Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law
Ohio State Journal on Dispute Resolution, Vol. 17, p. 641, 2002
The present article reports the findings of an empirical study that examined parties’ and attorneys’ assessments of mediation, mediation outcomes, and the time and cost of resolution in general jurisdiction civil cases. The study also examined the relationships between case, party, mediator, and program characteristics, on the one hand, and settlement and participants’ perceptions, on the other hand. Most parties and lawyers saw mediation as a procedurally just process that generally involved party participation and lacked settlement coercion. Almost half of mediated cases settled, and a substantial number of additional cases made progress toward settlement. Overall, mediation did not reduce the time to disposition, but cases that settled in mediation were resolved more quickly and attorneys reported greater cost savings. Party preparation for mediation, active party and attorney participation in mediation, and attorney cooperation during the session were among the characteristics that enhanced parties’ perceptions of procedural fairness. The characteristics that had the strongest relationship with an increased likelihood of settlement were the lack of disparity in parties’ initial positions, the attorney’s greater cooperation during mediation, and the mediator’s recommending a settlement or evaluating the case. The findings of other studies of civil mediation are discussed throughout. The Article concludes by summarizing what is known about general civil case mediation from empirical research and discussing the implications for program design and future research.