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Making Peace

If you haven't yet considered mediation as a way to resolve business disputes, here's why you should.

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This story appears in the January 2004 issue of Entrepreneur. Subscribe »

That our justice system is rife with problems is not news. With few exceptions, litigation takes too long, costs too much, and often leaves even the winners feeling like victims- just some of the many reasons why deal-makers should favor mediation over litigation.

Think of mediation as negotiation with a moderator. The mediator (a neutral third party) listens, questions, clarifies, sets ground rules and suggests alternatives, all to help the parties work out their own solution. A mediator has no authority to bind the parties, unlike an arbitrator, a judge or a jury. Jane Guerin, an attorney specializing in mediation and a UCLA law lecturer, highly recommends mediation. "Compared to litigation and arbitration," she says, "the parties have greater control over how their dispute is resolved."

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