Collaborative Mediation / Settlement Conference

Anna Williams is a certified mediator Family Designation with the Montana Mediation Association. She has successfully completed advanced curriculum that includes significant qualifying experience. She is a recognized expert in dispute resolution.

Anna Williams Law, PLLC offers alternative dispute resolution services in the form of mediation and the traditional settlement conference. Both mediations and settlement conferences are processes by which the parties engage a third party to help resolve their dispute. In mediation, that third party is called the mediator. In a settlement conference, that third party is called the settlement master or the neutral. In general, mediation and settlement conference proceedings are confidential.

Collaborative Mediation Services

Mediation is a private, confidential, informal process in which an impartial and neutral third person, the mediator, helps people resolve their differences. In the mediation process, decision-making authority remains with the parties and the mediator does not have authority to compel a resolution or to render a judgment on any issue. A mediator may encourage and assist the parties to reach their own mutually acceptable settlement by facilitating an exchange of information between the parties, helping to clarify issues and interests, ensuring that relevant information is brought forth, and assisting the parties to voluntarily resolve their dispute. (Sec. 26-1-813 Mont. Code Ann.)

Anna offers both traditional and collaborative style mediation. In collaborative style mediation, the parties remain in the same room and collaborate on the best way to resolve the issues, with the assistance of the Anna. The parties have the option of breaking out into separate groups if it appears that progress is not being made by remaining in the same room. In mediation, Anna attempts to provide a workable process and safe environment for conflict resolution. The ultimate goal is that the parties come to a voluntary agreement as to how to resolve the dispute that brought them to mediation.

Anna offers the traditional “shuttle-style” mediation also. In traditional style mediation, the parties may begin in the same room for opening statements, but they will move to separate rooms afterward. Anna moves back and forth between the rooms. In both types of mediation, Anna facilitates discussion of the dispute and utilizes her skills to help the parties design their own settlement. Parties are encouraged to look beyond their positions to try to identify the interests that underlie the dispute. It is often from these identified and agreed upon interests that an agreement is reached.

Settlement Conference Services

In some cases a settlement conference is a more productive process. Before a settlement conference, Anna will receive a settlement brochure from both parties. This brochure is usually confidential and not shared with the other party. After opening statements, the parties remain in separate rooms for a settlement conference. The settlement conference process tends to be more adversarial then mediation. Anna’s goal in a settlement conferences is to facilitate a settlement by working with each party separately to help them assess their case and risks that they would face in a courtroom.

Often courts require parties to participate in either a settlement conference or a mediation before advancing their case in the litigation process. However, any agreement reached in that process is completely voluntary.

It is important to remember that whether you choose a settlement conference or mediation, it is your opportunity to have a say in the outcome of the dispute. If process fails, then a judge or a jury will decide the outcome. Litigation is expensive, time-consuming and stressful. It is best when parties can voluntarily agree on the best way to resolve their dispute. Anna enjoys helping people come to a resolution of issues on their own terms out of court.

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