Moving mediation and arbitration forward

Though every attorney at Burnette Shutt & McDaniel is an experienced litigator who fights hard for our clients, sometimes a lengthy legal battle isn’t the best way. Litigation is expensive, both in terms of time and money. There’s also an emotional toll.

That’s why we also offer mediation and arbitration services, two forms of alternative dispute resolution.

At Burnette Shutt & McDaniel, co-founder M. Malissa Burnette is a South Carolina Supreme Court certified arbitrator and a certified federal court mediator. When she’s acting as a neutral party, both sides benefit from her decades of legal experience and depth of knowledge.

Oftentimes parties have no choice but to explore mediation. It’s required in South Carolina civil cases and received by a standing order by most federal judges. Even when it’s not required, it’s often preferred. In civil litigation, there is no guarantee of success before a judge or jury. Alternative dispute resolution often allows room for creative solutions.

The difference between mediation and arbitration

Arbitration and mediation are similar. Both take place outside a courtroom and the results usually have no official standing until a judge approves in court. There are important differences, though.

In mediation, both parties appear before a neutral third party. They explain their positions as the mediator listens and asks questions. The parties themselves then work out an agreement. They, not the mediator, decide.

Often, simply sitting with the mediator and beginning a dialogue goes a long way toward reaching a settlement. Nothing’s lost if the parties can’t agree. The process is confidential, meaning one side can’t later use something learned during mediation against the other.

In arbitration, the parties present evidence to the third party. The arbitrator then decides the outcome. There are similarities to formal court cases, though the rules are relaxed. Parties can choose binding arbitration, where the ruling is final. They also can opt for non-binding arbitration, which allows either party to keep the court case going rather than accept the arbitrator’s ruling.

Whether you choose mediation or arbitration, it’s important to choose an attorney with the skills and legal knowledge to help you reach a fair resolution. Malissa’s abilities have earned her numerous honors, including recognition from peers as Lawyer of the Year in mediation for the Midlands.