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What is Conciliation? How is it different than Mediation?

In a Conciliation a neutral private attorney, sometimes appointed by the court, assists parties in assessing the strengths and weaknesses of their case and exploring options for resolving the matter without going to trial.  Conciliation is similar to mediation in that the two parties are working with a neutral person who is attempting to help them reach an agreement. However there are some key differences:

  • If attorneys are involved in the case, they are usually present for conciliation. Often attorneys don't participate in a mediation.
  • Conciliators can, and often will, provide an opinion or assessment of each party's arguments.  While this may assist the parties in settling, it is different than mediation where the neutral avoids making assessments which could favor one party or the other.
  • While a mediator can be a mental health practitioner, financial expert or other non-attorney professional, a conciliator is an attorney because of the legal experience necessary to provide an assessment.
  • Conciliation usually takes place while a litigation case is pending, while most people seek mediation before litigation begins (although mediation can be used during litigation as well).
  • Finally, conciliators may be required to report back to the court if appointed by the court, while mediation is completely confidential and privileged.
Many of the Massachusetts Probate & Family Courts have conciliation programs in which the court will appoint a free conciliator to work with the parties at their request. In those programs, the conciliator agrees to provide a minimum of two hours and tries to assist the parties in settling without a cost. This Court appointed conciliation requires a report to be filed with the court.

Attorney Justin Kelsey has taken the conciliation training and can be appointed through the court in Norfolk and Middlesex counties as your free conciliator or you can choose to hire Attorney Kelsey directly. By paying for the conciliation you receive some additional benefits. Your time is not limited as with the court program, and we can work on your case until it settles. In addition, we will work around your schedule to accommodate you and your attorneys. Finally, you get to choose your neutral professional by reputation instead of being randomly assigned the next conciliator on the list.

Click here to learn more about mediation and conciliation offered by Kelsey & Trask P.C.


Comments

  1. Hi Justin, thanks for the interesting post. How does the cost of conciliation compare to the cost of mediation?

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    Replies
    1. Thanks for the comment/question. Of course, the cost of each case varies based on how complicated the case is, the rates of the respective professionals involved, and the level of conflict between the parties. In my experience, Conciliation is usually cheaper than Mediation just because it is usually faster. Because the neutral provides an evaluation of the case, this tends to move things along faster. Though ultimately there is a non-financial cost to that evaluation, because it takes some of the control from the parties to decide how they want to evaluate their own issues. Ultimately, as with all things, there are pros and cons to each process and it is important to educate oneself before choosing.

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