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SERVICES-HEADERTraditional litigation typically results in a trial, where a judge controls the proceedings, and a judge or jury decides the final outcome or award rendered. Litigation and civil court trials can be very costly, and often span the course of many months or years; the discovery process leading up to a trial can take years to complete. Once a verdict is rendered, it may be appealed. The Appeals process can take many more months. In some cases, this judicial process is necessary, but in many instances, Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) can bring about closure for the parties in a fraction of the time, at far less cost.


Mediation

Mediation offers parties in conflict, or involved in a lawsuit, a unique opportunity to resolve their dispute by agreement, without the necessity of going to Court. This type of alternative dispute resolution is facilitated by a mediator, who assists the parties to evaluate the strengths and weaknesses of their case or position in order to find a solution that works for everyone. The mediation process is completely voluntary and confidential. The parties retain complete control over the terms of the settlement. Voluntary agreements may be drafted as legally binding contracts or stipulations.

A typical mediation session begins with a joint session, at which time the parties present their views of the dispute. After each side has had an opportunity to tell their side of the facts, this is usually followed by “break out”, or individual, sessions with the mediator. These break out sessions are completely confidential and allow the parties to speak freely to the mediator about aspects of the case they do not want the opposing side to be aware of. These sessions tend to be more relaxed and allow parties in conflict to bring up other issues, which would not be considered relevant in a court proceeding.


Arbitration

Arbitration is less formal than a traditional court trial, yet typically provides the same result. It is an evidentiary hearing where both parties may present witnesses and submit documentary evidence to determine legal rights and responsibilities. The arbitrator, usually an attorney or retired judge with significant experience in the area of law related to the case, reviews the evidence, hears testimony from the parties, and renders a decision within a specified time period. This process is completed without the delays and costs associated with litigation. Most arbitration decisions are legally binding and can be enforced in the same manner as a judgment of a civil court. Arbitration judgments are final and not subject to a lengthy appeal process.

Types of arbitration include:

HIGH/LOW ARBITRATION

Without disclosure to the Arbitrator, parties agree in writing to a minimum and maximum arbitration award. After hearing the case, the decision of the arbitrator is binding, but can be no greater than or less than the minimum and maximum amounts agreed upon earlier by all parties. For example, the agreed upon high/low parameters are $5,000.00 (low) and $50,000.00 (high). If the Arbitrator awards $65,000.00 to the Plaintiff, the award is “capped” at $50,000.00 (high parameter). Alternatively, if the Arbitrator awards $1,000.00, the Plaintiff would receive $5,000.00 (low parameter). Any award rendered between the High/Low parameters would be the figure actually awarded. This type of arbitration offers a “safety net” to all parties. High/Low parameter agreements are often determined by the last offer and demand made between the parties.

TRIBUNAL

A panel of three Arbitrators conducts an arbitration hearing, reviews submitted evidence, and collectively make a final decision or award.

BASEBALL ARBITRATION

The parties each submit their evaluation of the case, along with their last/best offer or demand for settlement. The arbitrator chooses only one of the two figures submitted, and this is the award. There are also sub-types of Baseball Arbitration, including “Night Baseball”, wherein the Arbitrator is not given the offer and demand figures; the figure awarded closest to the undisclosed offer/demand is deemed the actual award. (Example: the parties agree that the parameters shall be the final offer made of $1,000.00 and the final demand made of $5,000.00. If the Arbitrator’s award is $4,000.00, the actual award would be $5,000.00. Conversely, if the Arbitrator’s award is $2,000.00, the actual award would be $1,000.00.


Case Evaluation / Consultation Services

Case evaluation and consultation offers a comprehensive file review, and a fresh, unbiased perspective of the claim. These services also provide in-depth analysis of the strengths and weaknesses of both sides of the matter, along with fair settlement value ranges. The vast majority of all civil suits are settled prior to trial. Effective negotiation is the least expensive form of file resolution. Multiple factors affect the value of a claim, not the least of which is a jury’s ignorance to the proper valuation of monetary damages. Having successfully negotiated the successful resolution of thousands of claims, NEMA’s track record is unparalleled. Our experience in all forms of alternative dispute resolution offers our case evaluation clients invaluable insight to the negotiation and mediation processes.


Focus Groups

In a high damages or high stakes case, counsel may want to “test the water” by conducting a focus group to have potential jurors hear the case. The attorney(s) presenting their case receive immediate feedback regarding liability, damages, experts, et cetera. A focus group provides counsel with invaluable insight as to what about their presentation works, and what doesn’t. Trial strategies are often changed based on the impact of knowledge gained from mock juries or focus groups. NEMA facilitates the entire session, and works with counsel and focus group members to obtain instant feedback.