Matthew Weinick heads the firm's mediation services practice area. As advocates, both firm partners Matt Weinick and Peter Famighetti represent clients at mediation. But, the mediation services practice area allows the firm to provide neutrals who serve as mediators, instead of lawyers who serve as advocates.
What is Mediation?
By way of background, mediation is an informal process of alternative dispute resolution by which the parties try to reach an agreement to settle a lawsuit or potential lawsuit while avoiding the cost and expense of litigation. The term “alternative” refers to the mediation process being an alternative to going to court. Mediation uses a mediator to help the parties reach an agreement to resolve the dispute. The mediator is an impartial neutral person who does not represent any party involved in the dispute.
In mediation, the formal procedures found in court or arbitration proceedings are not used in mediation proceedings. Indeed, though a mediator is usually a lawyer or a retired judge, mediators do not issue orders, decide issues, or rule on the merits of the case.
The rules of evidence do not apply in mediation and there are no set procedures for the presentation of facts or arguments. Rather, mediation is an informal proceeding which can be conducted in any manner which the parties and the mediator agree upon. This, along with the confidentiality offered by mediation, allows for open discussion of the issues and allows for the free exchange of ideas. Thus, it becomes easier to determine the interests of the parties and to fashion a solution that satisfies those interests.
Mediators do not impose a solution upon the parties. Instead, the mediator uses techniques which help the parties craft a resolution themselves. Mediation is not binding, so unless all parties agree to the resolution, there is no agreement and no resolution. The parties may agree to continue negotiations after the mediation session, or the case may be filed in court or continued in court, if it was already filed.
The process of mediation usually begins by the parties selecting a mediator. In making that decision, parties may consider whether a particular mediator has experience in the subject matter of the dispute. For example, if the case is about employment discrimination, the parties may seek out a mediator with knowledge and experience in the area of employment law. Additionally, parties may select a mediator based on the mediator's temperament, mediation style, and fees.
After selecting a mediator, the parties and mediator may hold an initial phone call to discuss the next steps. Since mediation is not bound by particular rules, the parties together with the mediator, can decide and formulate how the mediation will proceed. Typically, the parties agree to provide to the mediator a mediation statement, which outlines the facts and issues of the case for the mediator, calculates potential damages, and summarizes the party's settlement position. All parties, lawyers, and the mediator, will also sign a confidentiality agreement to ensure whatever is said during mediation, remains confidential and can't be used in court.
The mediation itself takes place on a date and time agreed to by the parties and the mediator. Traditionally, mediations take place in person, but since COVID, many participants choose to do mediation via Zoom or a similar platform. Mediations can begin with a joint session, where all participants are together in one room, or mediations can be conducted via separate caucuses, where the parties are in separate rooms. Of course, a combination of joint and separate sessions are possible also. It's all up to the parties.
How Can Famighetti & Weinick PLLC Help Your Mediation?
As head of the firm's mediation services practice area, Matt Weinick is trained and experienced to serve as a mediator. Matt was trained at one of the leading alternative dispute resolution centers in the New York City metropolitan area. The training combined classroom/lecture lessons, along with role playing mediation sessions. The course is approved for mediation training by the New York State court system. Among other skills, the course taught effective listening techniques, problem solving, and methods to generate movement towards agreement.
In addition to classroom work, Matt was further trained by the United States District Court, Eastern District of New York, to specifically mediate cases filed in the federal courts. Through the mediator incubator program, Matt worked along side mediators considered the best in the business. The program not only trained Matt to improve his mediator skills, but also required that Matt demonstrate his ability to mediate cases in real life mediations for cases pending in federal court. Participation in the program has opened up resources Matt can continue to rely on, including periodic meetings of groups of mediators to discuss issues arising in mediation, and an assigned mentor.
In support of Matt's work as a mediator, a highly experienced and respected mediator has observed that Matt “demonstrates careful attention to detail and has a very focused, calming, and measured demeanor that will enable parties to engage in thoughtful interaction in search of an acceptable resolution of the case.” Matt was further described as having “a balanced perspective that is sometimes sorely missing among neutrals.”
To schedule a mediation or to learn more about our mediation services, call our office at 631-352-0050 or complete the inquiry form on our website.