Mediation is a process in which parties come together with a mediator in order to resolve a dispute, before it escalates and reaches the courtroom.  The mediator is an objective party whose role, above all, is to facilitate negotiations and empower the parties to find their own solutions.

Choosing the right mediator has a large impact on the outcome.  Michael Rainey’s 95% settlement rate is significantly above average, because of his profound ability to uncover the underlying issues and facilitate the parties’ willingness to consider alternative solutions.  Michael’s clients report a very high level of satisfaction with the process and results.

The Mediation Process

Stage 1. Convening:

  • The parties agree to mediate.
  • Everyone necessary to reach final resolution should be present at the mediation.

Stage 2. Opening:

  • Michael explains the process and logistics so everyone understands what to expect.
  • Ground rules for the mediation are established.
  • Agreement is established on the parameters of confidentiality.

Stage 3. Fact Finding:

  • The parties take turns discussing what they see as the problem and their views of the issues involved.
  • The parties then discuss their positions, what they see as the solution.
  • Michael helps the parties identify their underling interests.  Parties typically have disparate interests, and issues are usually more complex than they appear at the surface.  Michael effectively navigates these emotionally-charged minefields to go beyond the statements of issues and positions and understand what the real issues and motivations are.

A good illustration of the value of this is described in “Getting to YES,” by Robert Fisher: Two children are fighting over an orange.  The typical parental decision is to give each child half.  However, with meaningful (and brief) Fact Finding the wise parent would discover that each child wanted the orange for different reasons:  One for the juice, and one for the rind.  This materially affects what is the most appropriate solution.

  • Michael’s tenacious yet patient approach enables vital information and real interests to surface.  This creates the environment for parties to be more amenable to alternative solutions.

Stage 4. Negotiation:

  • Conveying underlying interests: Michael facilitates the parties’ articulation of the real interests and needs involved.
  • Providing realistic assessments: Michael’s extensive experience as an attorney enables him to practically assess and articulate the strengths and weaknesses of each party’s position.
  • Facilitating negotiations: Michael combines a highly skilled interpersonal approach with substantive knowledge, based on over 30 years of experience in legal practice and 16 years in ADR covering Business Issues, Personal Injury, Product Liability, Real Estate, Construction, Aviation, and Insurance to facilitate progress in resolving conflicts.
  • Motivating parties to settle: Michael empowers the parties to identify viable settlement terms and generates a much greater willingness to reach resolution.

Stage 5. Agreement:

  • Once there is a settlement, Michael helps the parties create a durable agreement in which all parties feel their issues were resolved and their interests were satisfied.
  • If there was a relationship between the parties (e.g., coworkers, neighbors, etc.), the resolution should also consider ways of healing the relationship from any damage resulting from the conflict.


There are multiple ways to handle disputes.  The conflict continuum shows the spectrum of options available. On the left, in blue, are the methods that most involve the parties to the dispute. On the right, in red, are those methods that distance the parties from the process.

  • Self-Help: Avoid the problem. Hope it goes away.
  • Negotiation: Parties to the dispute talk it over, look for a solution.
  • Mediation: Parties employ the support of a third, objective person to help them find a solution.
  • Arbitration: Parties employ a third party to act as judge who listens to the case and makes a decision about the solution.
  • Litigation: Full use of the legal system. Decision Making Authority lies with Judge/Arbitrator/Jury.
  • Self Help: Violence.

In mediation with Michael, parties enjoy the following benefits:

  • Parties control and support the ultimate outcome.
  • Consensual, fair settlements:  Michael adeptly facilitates negotiations that foster win-win, rather than win-lose, agreements.
  • Significant savings in cost, time and emotional toll:  Avoiding the courtroom has a dramatic impact on the hard and soft costs to all parties, and retains the maximum value for all parties.

For helpful articles and important cases in Mediation, click here.