Conciliation is a type of Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) that is becoming more common in the United States and is used in court-affiliated ADR programs in Massachusetts. Typically, the parties will seek conciliation following the commencement of litigation and identification of the disputed issues. The conciliator meets with the parties and counsel and listens to each side explain what their desired outcome is and why they believe that outcome is fair.
The conciliator will then ask questions and may meet with each side and his/her attorney, or just the attorneys or just the parties or any combination thereof. The conciliator analyzes the situation and using legal acumen and his/her knowledge of the particular judge assigned to the case, will help the parties reach resolution by helping each side to understand the strengths and weaknesses of their position. The conciliator may make proposals for settlement and seek agreement from each side.
If an agreement in principal is reached, a short memorandum incorporating the basic terms is prepared. One of the attorneys generally undertakes to draft a comprehensive agreement which is then signed by the parties and becomes part of a Court’s judgment.
There are several advantages to using conciliation rather than taking issues to the courtroom:
- It is less expensive. Taking issues to trial can cost thousands of dollars.
- It consumes less time. Issues handled by the court often get drawn out and postponed, making the process lengthy.
- It can be more private.
- In general, litigants who reach voluntary agreements are more satisfied with the process. Leaving decisions to the Court can be unpredictable and a Court does not have the time to address nuances and details that may be important to the parties.
For more information about conciliation or other forms of Alternative Dispute Resolution, contact Patricia S. Fernandez & Associates. Pat serves as a Conciliator (both privately paid by the parties or pro bono through court appointment) or as Counsel representing a Party at the conciliation. Our legal team is dedicated to helping you to choose the strategy that is right for you. Call (978) 681-5454 or Click Here to request a free 30 minute consultation.