• Mediator of civil cases since 1996,
    settlement rate of 85%-95%


frequently asked…

Doesn’t the court have to order mediation?
How do I schedule a mediation?
How do I set up an arbitration?
What does a mediation cost?
What does an arbitration cost?
Can we do the mediation on a contingent fee basis – payment if the case settles?
Who pays for the mediation?
Do you charge for additional parties?
Do you charge for cancellation?
What if the case does not settle in the mediation?

Doesn’t the court have to order mediation?
No. Mediation is historically a voluntary process in which the parties agree to mediation. Illinois courts do now have the power to order cases to mediation. At the present time, it is not being done all that often in Illinois.

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How do I schedule a mediation?
Pick up the phone and call, (312) 525-8123 or e-mail me at mleech@talk-sense.com. Provide (1) names of all parties; (2) names of all attorneys and contact information; (3) names of anyone else who will participate in the mediation; (4) the court caption, if the case is in court; (5) the insurance carrier, if there is one; (6) the payment arrangement between the parties; (7) where you would like to conduct the mediation (city and location); (8) suggested dates or date range.

As required by the Illinois Uniform Mediation Act, a mediation will not be accepted until I have provided a mediator’s disclosure statement, but I do reserve dates in advance of providing that statement so that you can rely on the date being fixed.

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How do I set up an arbitration?
Arbitration can be voluntary, agreed upon at the start of or during a case. People sometimes enter into a submission agreement and select their own arbitrator without using an arbitration service. There are limitations on conducting an arbitration this way, as there are certain areas, such as conflicts of interest, in which an arbitration agency is very useful.

Most often, however, an arbitration is mandated by an agreement the parties have entered into before the dispute arose. Typically, the agreement calls for the arbitration to be conducted under the rules of the American Arbitration Association (“AAA”). In such cases, one of the parties may initiate arbitration by filing a demand for arbitration with the AAA and paying the filing fee. The AAA has an established process for selecting an arbitrator from its roster of qualified arbitrators. You can request additional names if you are not satisfied with those first offered. Depending on the type of case and the case manager, my name may be one of those from which you can choose.

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What does a mediation cost?
Short answer: excluding class actions and cases involving large sums or highly complex problems, the total cost generally falls between $5,000 and $10,000. More often than not, that cost is shared between the two parties. The preparation time required, the length of the mediation and the follow-up that sometimes is called for can impact that total cost.

Call me for rates (312) 525-8123. I embrace the Association of Attorney-Mediators principle that cost should never stand in the way of a mediation. So if the lawyers in the case are not getting paid, if there has been a past unsuccessful mediation, if the amount in dispute is small, if one of the parties is a not-for-profit organization, or for other compelling reasons, I will consider reasonable offers on mediator compensation.

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What does an arbitration cost?
This is entirely dependent on the case. The amount of pre-hearing activity (motions over threshold issues, discovery motions, dispositive motions) can impact cost. The length of the hearing and whether the parties desire a “reasoned” opinion as opposed to a one-line decision also impacts the total. The hope is certainly that the streamlined scope of discovery and shorter, managed schedule overall will result in a reduction in cost that more than makes up for the cost of the arbitrator.

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Can we do the mediation on a contingent fee basis – payment if the case settles?
No. The leading ethics standards for mediators condemn contingent fees because they put too much pressure on the mediator to coerce a settlement. My billing practices, like those of almost all civil case mediators, are based on hourly billing rates and are not tied to the amount of the settlement.

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Who pays for the mediation?
That is up to the parties to decide. Usually the cost is divided equally. If not, it’s helpful for everyone to have some “skin in the game” but not essential. But please note, a deposit for the cost of preparation and a full day of mediation is required in advance of the mediation.

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Do you charge for additional parties?
No. If you think about it, that’s a charge that’s just because there are more people paying for the mediation. The mediator should not be paid other than based on the time and effort expended on reaching settlement. If a mediator charges for additional parties, all it does is increase the hourly rate without any additional value being delivered.

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Do you charge for cancellation?
No. The day may come when I do, but to date, I have had few mediations cancel or postpone at the last minute. I want to be paid for the work I do, not for not working.

Generally people postpone mediations for very good reasons and I would not want to inhibit that. If the cancellation is because the parties settled, that’s the best possible way to settle the case and they should not be taxed for it. Truth be told, I am often grateful to have the additional time and flexibility.

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What if the case does not settle in the mediation?
It is not likely but it does happen. I will assess the situation and give people my thoughts for what might be required before the case is likely to settle. Or I might suggest that another day of mediation be scheduled. Either way, when a case does not settle, I will follow up as long as there is any hope of achieving a resolution. Usually when a case does not settle in mediation, it does resolve later on through these efforts.

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