Sarah Gurney Attorney Sebastopol CAMedaiton for divorce, Sebastopol, Santa Rosa, CA
Mediation for confilct resolution

Mediation Could Work for You
by Sarah Glade Gurney
Sonoma West Times & News
July 2009 Women in Business

Sarah Glade Gurney mediation attorney

I see fewer people resorting to expensive litigation or to the complex collaborative approach to resolve their legal disputes. In this economy, more people are choosing mediation, thinking it costs less.

Mediation can cost less because one attorney serves as a neutral facilitator and legal professional for two people. It allows people to maintain control over the timing, content, and result of their legal efforts.

Mediation is a lot of work. The clients need to define their issues and determine their priorities. Once these become clear, the clients gather the information they need to understand the decisions ahead. They discuss different opportunities for settlement and negotiate until each person is satisfied.

When I meet new clients, one or both might express doubt about their ability to do this work during an emotional transition and under financial stress. As we get better acquainted with each other, the process, and the issues, the clients gain skill and confidence. Here are some of the skills that I have noted in my successful clients who, in the midst of their troubles, mightn’t have thought they would do so well.

  1. Being able to listen and learn what legal work needs to be done. Most people have little experience with the legal bureaucracy so I spend time informing them about what’s required to enter and exit our legal system.
  2. Expressing needs in an honest and respectful way. Being a good communicator is key and very challenging, especially in highly charged moments or about sensitized issues. If a person can identify his or her needs, then those needs can usually be met.
  3. Keeping the goal in mind. Discussions take people from the macro issues into the micro details. Discussing what seems like minutia can get overwhelming, intellectually and emotionally. Usually, when people can see all of the details together in the big picture, they know what is acceptable.
  4. Committing to tasks and working in between meetings. There is homework to do. There are practical assignments; there also is the interior work of personal change. It takes genuine effort for people to move from the painful place they may be in, to the uncertainty of transition, then into a newly defined relationship.
  5. Willing to take some risks. Mediation is an entirely volunteer process. It takes courage and trust.

If you find yourself needing legal help, I hope that you will consider mediation, having confidence that you can develop these skills and succeed.



Sarah Glade Gurney . Family Law Attorney . 130 Petaluma Avenue, Suite 2-B . Sebastopol, CA 95472 . T: 707.823.6500 F: 707.823.6501