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Choosing mediation over litigation: Benefits and drawbacks

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The general public knows substantially less about entertainment law than it does about the general criminal justice system and when you take a close look at how complex and sprawling entertainment law can be, you understand why. From prolonged contract negotiations to intellectual property cases, entertainment law can be a bit dry and boring, even if the dollar amounts involved are gigantic. One alternative resolution method that many entertainment lawyers recommend to save time and money is mediation. With mediation, both sides of an issue meet and talk in hopes of solving a dispute so the two parties do not have to go to court, which often times takes significantly longer and can, in some cases, cost significantly more. Let’s take a look at some of the plusses and minuses of using mediation over litigation.

Probably the biggest advantage mediation has over litigation is that it helps two sides sit down at the bargaining table and attempt to talk out their problem instead of spending unreasonable amounts of time in court. While most mediators are paid by the hour and can be somewhat costly if the two sides are far apart, it is often significantly less than what both sides would pay for separate legal representation.

Problems with mediation can arise if the two sides are especially contentious with each other. There are infamous scenarios from the world of international politics where the two parties involved take weeks to decide on the shape of the table they will be negotiating at and what sort of food will be catered at the negotiation. If this sounds like the situation you are in at the moment, you probably want to forego mediation for something more formal.

Mediation can also be a great public relations tool. It shows a level of maturity and willingness to compromise with the other side if you can sit down and have a real conversation. Often times, companies that are experiencing strikes will ask for mediation simply because of the photo-ops that take place and the image of the two sides literally sitting down at the same table and talking. Mediation can also help clear up any misconceptions the two sides have about each other that might not be resolved until the two sides meet in court. If a long standing dispute has been played out in the media over a long period of time and both sides have been routinely misquoted, which is routine in so many high profile entertainment disputes, mediation gives both parties a chance to sit down, clear the air and maybe even reach a settlement. If not, mediation can give both sides a clearer idea of what the other wants and can completely change the tone of what has happened up to that point.

While mediation can never be considered a cure all, it is considered a far more adult way to solve standing disputes. It gives two parties a chance to discuss a situation face to face for a fraction of the cost of litigation. It may not be for every situation, but it does have far reaching applications in the world of entertainment law.

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