John Miles, founder of Miles Mediation & Arbitration, shares how the mediation process can bring more business to lawyers and speedier satisfaction to clients.
When Miles Mediation & Arbitration first began, it was just John Miles, his truck and a passion for the art of mediation and entrepreneurship. It took him until he was around 40 years old to realize that his real happiness lay in building his own business, rather than practicing law.
“I’m building something that hopefully is making the lives of my employees, my mediators and our customers better,” Miles said.
Now, Miles leads over 50 mediators in fulfilling the growing demand for arbitration all across the Southeast.
In this episode, Scott and Miles talk about the flourishing practice of lawyers settling in mediation rather than undergoing trial. As the upward trend continues, Miles shares how arbitration can help build a lawyer’s business and give clients the unique opportunity to use their voice.
Getting The Most Out Of Mediation
The lawyers that consistently get the best results for their clients in mediation are the ones who come in prepared. Miles said lawyers should head into mediation the same way they would head into trial.
“So when you come in, you know that you’re ready to go and you say ‘Look I hope we settle this case, but if we don’t I will be equally prepared to try this case’,” Miles said.
“Know the weaknesses of your case and be open about that.”
Many times the key to success in arbitration is trusting your mediator. For his own business, Miles is often looking for a person with a unique set of skills to be able to assist lawyers through arbitration.
“You have to be able to look someone in the eye and tell them they’re crazy as Hell and then the next moment get up and get them a cup of coffee,” Miles said.
Once Miles’ mediators begin working with attorneys, they understand all the concerns of lawyers in mediation. One of the most common questions they receive is: ‘If I don’t think the other side is going to settle, how do I keep from revealing my entire trial strategy?’
Miles said that’s no small matter to consider during arbitration.
“Each one of those individuals can look an attorney in the eye and say ‘I will keep that in my back pocket and I won’t use it unless I believe there’s a good chance we will get this case resolved’”, he said.
Now more than ever, lawyers should look to mediation as a viable option for their clients. As the pandemic has slowed the judicial process, more attorneys have taken a new look at arbitration, causing less cases to go to litigation.
Miles’ business has seen exponential growth within the last year. He suspects it is because many lawyers have found that mediation actually brings a better result than trial.
“Your day to play your best case and to play your best facts is now at mediation. It’s going to be better for your client. That’s going to mean more business for you in the future.”
A Better Experience For Clients
Mediation can bring a swifter and more satisfying result for many clients.
One of the greatest advantages for many clients is the ability to exercise their voice in mediation. In trial, they would not have the opportunity to share their own experiences, in their own words. But, in arbitration, they can take the floor.
“There’s an emotional component,” Miles said. “It provides something that court never can. The opportunity to sit across the table, look into the eye of the person who injured you and express yourself. In your language, with your timing, in an uninterrupted way. You’ll never get that at trial.”
Many times, the arbitration process doesn’t take as long as a trial. While a client may have to wait three to four years to see their day in court, mediation can bring results in as little as 18 months time.
Mediation also gives you the opportunity to really listen to what your client wants and work toward that. It may be the ability to give emotional testimony or a swift result driving the client rather than a large sum of money.
“The problem lawyers sometimes make is they say ‘My client just wants a dollar figure’ but I think that’s a mistake,” he said. “Being more cognizant of what you are trying to deliver for your client. More lawyers are coming to the conclusion that it makes financial sense for me and emotional sense and financial sense for my client.”
The happier your client is with the results, the more likely they’ll come back to you and recommend your services to others. Miles said it’s a win-win for both lawyers and clients.
“They can leave with a new perspective they didn’t have when they came in.”
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