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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.

By Marc Diener

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

That our justice system is rife with problems is not news. Withfew exceptions, litigation takes too long, costs too much, andoften leaves even the winners feeling like victims- just some ofthe many reasons why deal-makers should favor mediation overlitigation.

Think of mediation as negotiation with a moderator. The mediator(a neutral third party) listens, questions, clarifies, sets groundrules and suggests alternatives, all to help the parties work outtheir own solution. A mediator has no authority to bind theparties, unlike an arbitrator, a judge or a jury. Jane Guerin, anattorney specializing in mediation and a UCLA law lecturer, highlyrecommends mediation. "Compared to litigation andarbitration," she says, "the parties have greater controlover how their dispute is resolved."

Because mediation is informal, nonadversarial and keepsdisputants talking directly, it is surprisingly effective. In fact,experts say that mediation is successful 80 percent of the time. Inthe United States, studies show high satisfaction rates on bothsides, and that mediated settlements are far less likely to beprotested or later attacked than litigated ones.

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