The conciliation process can be an invaluable tool to reduce intractable conflict in cases where obstacles prevent out of court settlements and cost-effective resolutions.
An experienced conciliator can serve as a conflict surgeon and help foster productive communications, curtail unreasonable behavior, and promote creative solutions—relieving the burden and costs created by unproductive negotiations and court proceedings.
If you are involved in a divorce or other family law, personal injury, construction, or real estate matter in Massachusetts for example, conciliation provides an excellent mechanism to diffuse conflict and shift the focus onto finding solutions, with less stress and lower legal bills.
Of course, the skill, training, and experience of the conciliator is a factor.
What Is Conciliation?
Conciliation is a dispute resolution technique where a neutral conciliator works with opposed parties to help them find common ground and to identify the strengths and weaknesses in their positions. In Massachusetts, conciliators are attorneys, and for court purposes, must have at least three years of experience.
While conciliation is similar to mediation, they are not the same. Unlike mediation, a conciliator injects their insight and opinions as to how each side might fare in court and how their positions compare with the law. Conciliators provide each side a view of how things might turn out, suggest possible solutions to the parties, and weigh in on the exposures and costs associated with failing to reach an agreement. In both mediation and conciliation, the neutral dispute resolution professional does not make any binding decisions, such as in an arbitration; although the parties do oftentimes reach an agreement that is then put in writing and signed, becoming an enforceable agreement.
Although variations exist, in Massachusetts, mediation is sometimes employed from the beginning of a dispute and may be used to avoid court altogether. Conciliation, on the other hand, may be initiated at any stage of a dispute. In divorce and other civil cases, conciliation is often used towards the end of a case, when a trial is looming and the case has become log jammed by conflict.
Advantages of Conciliation
There are a number of advantages to the conciliation process. These include:
- The presence of an experienced neutral (also an attorney) who will actively suggest possible solutions to the problems at hand and evaluate the risks and costs associated with continuing the dispute.
- The ability to select the conciliator, allowing parties to choose their conciliator based on such criteria as expertise, availability, and knowledge of the subject area.
- Time and cost-efficiency due to the flexible nature of proceedings.
- Total confidentiality agreed upon by both parties as well as the conciliator, which means both parties can be assured of discretion no matter what the outcome of the process.
When Should You Use Conciliation?
So when should you use this option? If you are involved in a high conflict dispute that is dragging on or you are faced with a high conflict, unreasonable opponent, conciliation might be a good option. Cases that have been pending in court for a long time may also benefit from conciliation.
If you think conciliation might be an option for you, please feel free to contact us. We will always be happy to do whatever we can for you to help you better your life and move on as quickly as possible.
We offer affordable payment options for conciliation, including half-day and full-day rates. We can host your conciliation at our comfortable Norfolk, MA office, or travel to your location. Our conciliators have helped many litigants and their attorneys resolve their pending disputes, saving thousands and thousands in litigation fees and helping relive the court’s overloaded docket.