Multiracial coworkers having quarrel in office

Negotiation, Litigation, or Mediation: Which One Fits Our Needs?

Chris Sanders Law PLLC April 21, 2023

Many nonprofit organizations seek justice in society from their base in Louisville or elsewhere in Kentucky, and I have ties with many of them. But any organization, however noble its goals, can run into disputes and legal problems that slow or threaten the great good they are striving for. A lawsuit—whether from an employee, a contractor, or another nonprofit or for-profit organization— can place obstacles in the pursuit of their goals.  

When these disputes or legal challenges arise, you certainly want to avoid a courtroom battle, which can consume weeks or months of both time and money. There are perfectly acceptable alternatives to reaching a settlement to avoid the costs of litigation. That’s where I come in. 

My firm, Chris Sanders Law PLLC, is dedicated to making life better for the everyday working person. I work with nonprofits, unions, political organizations, faith groups, and others in a variety of capacities to help push forward causes that improve business and society in general. If your nonprofit is facing a legal challenge or dispute in or around Louisville, or anywhere in the state, contact me, Attorney Chris Sanders, with your questions and concerns. I can help guide you toward resolving the issue without a costly courtroom confrontation. Let’s discuss your options. 

Mediation to Resolve Disputes

Whether your dispute arises from an employee grievance, an issue with a contractor, or perhaps a disagreement with another nonprofit or even for-profit business, your first instinct should be to resolve matters outside of the courtroom. Of course, if you’ve been served papers, you must respond, but remember that the vast majority of all civil lawsuits are resolved outside of court. When it comes to a lawsuit, judges will often order mediation before the trial commences in hopes that everything can be resolved. 

Generally speaking, there are five phases to mediation. Underlying all this is the fact that mediation is typically not binding. Unless both parties agree on a resolution, nothing will be finalized. That being said, the five stages of mediation with an independent mediator may include: 

  • OPENING STATEMENTS: Both sides will be seated around a table with the mediator and will present opening statements. 

  • JOINT DISCUSSIONS: Opening statements are often followed by both parties discussing what transpired with the initial remarks and can query the other party. 

  • PRIVATE DISCUSSIONS: After the opening session, the parties can meet with the mediator individually to press their viewpoints and their ideas for a resolution. 

  • NEGOTIATION: Back to the bargaining table, both sides can discuss a settlement with one another in presence of the mediator. 

  • SETTLEMENT: If the two sides have managed to negotiate a settlement, then it needs to be put in writing. If not, then it’s off to arbitration or even a trial. 

The Arbitration Process

Arbitration takes everything to an elevated level. Most arbitrations end up in mandated settlements, so both parties must agree to this in advance. Arbitrations are also often conducted by former judges, and the rules of the process closely resemble an actual trial when it comes to the admission of evidence. However, unlike an actual trial, hearsay evidence is often permitted. 

Much like a civil lawsuit, one party files a claim, and the other party is required to respond. The two parties then jointly select an arbitrator. Just like a trial, there will then be pre-arbitration hearings, generally by telephone or online media, and then the discovery process begins, meaning each party will submit the documents and evidence they have.  

The next stage is the actual arbitration hearing, during which both sides present their evidence and make their arguments. When this concludes, the arbitrator—or in some cases, arbitrators—will deliberate the facts of the case and render a decision known as an award. The decision is binding, as originally agreed upon. 

The Civil Trial Process

Civil trial resembles arbitration but it presents a more challenging environment. There must be an initial claim and then a response, followed by a pre-trial hearing and the discovery process, in which both sides share what they have and intend to present in court.  

A judge, not an arbitrator, will preside, and depending on the nature of the case, there may also be a jury to render the decision. Unlike a criminal trial, however, a jury decision does not have to be unanimous. Here, majority vote rules. 

Litigation, of course, is the costliest of all methods of resolution. No matter which path you end up pursuing, it’s vital to have a skilled attorney on your side. 

How an Experienced Attorney Can Help

Depending on the nature of the dispute you’re facing, you have several options. Which is the best in your circumstance—mediation, arbitration, or litigation—is best resolved through consultation with an experienced business litigation attorney. You need to act quickly to seek guidance before you say or do something that jeopardizes your position. A civil claim is not a do-it-yourself defense proposition. 

Strong and Reliable Legal Help

I work closely with nonprofits, unions, activist organizations, faith-based groups and others with a view to bettering society. If you have questions or concerns about your organization’s legal issue, reach out immediately and let’s discuss how to protect your rights and advance your goals. I can work with you in many ways. Set up a consultation with me Chris Sanders Law PLLC.