Finley Gibbs Is A Columbia, MO Mediator
With Over 20 Years Of Legal Experience
Mediation can save up to 90% of the cost associated with a legal trial
Mediation can be accomplished in days instead of years fighting a lawsuit
A successful mediation settlement can result in a legally binding contract
In the simplest sense, Mediation occurs when two sides to a disagreement (the Parties) meet with a third party (the Mediator) who works with the two parties (together or separately) to help find a solution designed to resolve or settle the original disagreement.
Of course, Mediation is hardly that simple or we would use it to solve all disagreements. Often Parties will attempt to use tactics to mislead the other side and a Mediator is necessary to sort that out and keep the Parties “honest.” A Mediator is a neutral person. A Mediator is not a Judge or an Arbitrator. A Mediator will not make a ruling or bind the parties to a Judgment decided by the Mediator. While many Mediators are retired Judges, Mediators are there to help an agreement be formed, not to pass Judgment on the Parties or force them to an agreement. If an agreement is reached, often the agreement is written down in the form of an enforceable contract. While a contract is generally binding upon the parties, the Mediator will not be able to personally enforce it. Because a Mediation is an attempt at settlement, where offers go back and forth between the Parties, those offer communications and the statements of parties and attorneys working on the Mediation are secret and in general, if the case later goes to trial, witnesses are not allowed to testify about what happened or what was said in the Mediation. Mediators are usually paid by the hour by one or both parties and have no benefit or bonus if the case settles in Mediation.
Mediation is not perfect. Some cases need to be resolved by a Judge or Jury. Because a courtroom is often the next stop after a mediation, it is easy to get caught up in the excitement of trying to get your case settled the day of the mediation. There is a pressure to get it done "right then!" Sometimes that pressure is good, as it can motivate a reluctant party to move forward, let go of their emotion and finish the case with a reasonable settlement. Sometimes, though, that pressure can cause people to settle their case for less than they should. A Mediator cannot stop a person from making a decision which resolves their case for a low amount of money or without resolving their legal issues. A Mediator can try to keep the mediation going in order to facilitate a quality settlement for all parties, but at the end of the day, the parties decide whether to settle their case. If the two parties are operating under a massive imbalance of power, it can be difficult to persuade the party which has the power to make reasonable offers to the party which does not. Some such cases are better for the courtroom than a mediation in a conference room. Sometimes a party will use the mediation simply as a tool to try to determine the bottom line of the other party and carefully not make reasonable offers. That party is not interested in settling the case, they want to abuse the process for their own benefit. A Mediator will use their best efforts to ferret out those behaviors and either cease the mediation or work to get both parties making reasonable offers despite the bad behaviors. Without the immediate pressure of a Jury waiting in the next room or the Arbitrator preparing a decision, the parties lack the "hammer" which may cause resolution. A forced mediation rarely works.
A skilled Mediator will prepare for a Mediation by knowing the facts of the case, the parties involved, and the history behind the facts of the case. A skilled Mediator will also be able to build a connection with the parties, so that the Mediator can explore whether there are paths to resolution of the disagreement which had not been explored yet. He or she does this by making the parties comfortable enough to discuss what they really want to achieve. A skilled Mediator will attempt to understand those motivations so that the Mediator can assist both parties when their interests and motivations can be matched. A skilled Mediator will determine whether there is an outside force or factor which affects the parties in a way which requires the Mediator to seek a non-traditional agreement. A skilled Mediator is a superb listener. A skilled Mediator must also carefully manage the information they receive. A skilled Mediator can keep a secret. Often, the Mediator is given information which must not be transmitted to the other side. A Mediator is ethically required to manage the information given to the Mediator to ensure that no private information is exchanged, by communication or expression, without permission.
A skilled Mediator knows the law and understands how lawsuits work. A thorough knowledge of litigation, medicine, physics, engineering, crash dynamics and all the other aspects of a case (for personal injury mediations) is crucial so that the Mediator gains the trust of both parties. This further allows the Mediator to assist the parties' attempts at settlement based upon their thorough knowledge of the case, the underlying facts and the law. A Mediator should be firm when necessary to correct an overbearing party but should not intrude upon the efforts of the Parties to pursue peace through settlement.
Finley is 53 years old, married for 30 years, a parent of two (plus dogs), a graduate of Hickman High School, the University of Missouri - St. Louis, the University of Missouri School of law and a veteran of many types of litigation including Jury Trials, Bench Trials, Administrative hearings, Appeals, Municipal trials, etc. When he was younger, he rode a motorcycle across the country, was employed as a Welder, mix plant Operator, Lawn Chemical applicator, Sales Rep, Territory Manager, Bouncer and more. Those varied experiences let him work with all types of people from all walks of life. He is AV rated with Martindale-Hubbell. He has handled at least a thousand cases to conclusion as lead counsel. He has litigated cases ranging from landlord tenant fights, divorces and traffic matters to representing Physicians to personal injury, pharmaceutical products liability to fighting Citibank in a 158 million dollar Qui Tam action. He has fought cases from Reynolds County, to Boone County, to St. Louis to New York. He is proudest of his settlements where the parties seemed impossibly far apart, but he was able to find common ground for his clients and the other side.
Finley studied Mediation and all forms of Alternative Dispute Resolution in Law School. He later completed in the Mediation Training for Civil Cases course at the University of Missouri in 2009. While the Mediation classes are important, Finley believes experience and social skills are equally valuable. There are many Mediators who believe that a mediation is simply two parties in separate rooms and the Mediator runs back and forth with written offers, "carrying water!" The truth is, Mediation is much subtler. The Mediator should be as educated as the parties about their case and truly delve into the parties' wishes, stripping away the tactics and getting to their real needs. Finley will take the time to ensure he understands the case and the parties' situations. Finley is a Mediator because he enjoys mediations (nobody gets rich doing mediations!). Give him a call to see whether he can help settle your case!
If you want us to determine whether we can assist, please contact us to schedule a free consultation. We prefer the parties to send a statement of the case and copies of any documents which may assist with the mediation. Please be sure to clearly identify which matters may be discussed with the other side and which may not. Please also understand that although Finley is a lawyer, he will not act as a lawyer or represent either side in any fashion related to your case.
Learn what the meaning and benefits of a Mediation Caucus meeting are
Using mediation to settle cases makes clients happy and provides good results
Mediation can settle your personal injury case plus save you time and money
Contact our firm at the office number listed below and a representative will be glad to assist you.
Gibbs Legal Consulting Firm
1001 East Walnut St, Suite 200 Columbia, MO 65201
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