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The following does not necessarily apply to NYSDRA contract programs (i.e. Lemon Law, VESID, Special Ed). See program-specific manuals for case management procedures for these contract programs.

When cases are referred from sources other than court, each party is contacted to make sure that they understand what mediation is, so that they can decide whether they would like to mediate. If both parties wish to mediate, a date and time for the mediation is scheduled.

Agreements

Agreements in these cases are not legally binding, unless the parties contact the court and arrange to file the case.  It will then be the judge’s decision whether or not to make the mediated agreement legally enforceable.

Scheduling a Second Mediation

Parties can schedule a second session with their mediator during their initial session.  The mediator then notifies the Mediation Center staff of the date and time for the second session.

Role of the Mediator

Again, the mediator must be cautious regarding any information provided to parties in a mediation session.  The unauthorized practice of law has been a growing area of concern regardless of whether the case is referred from court or from another source outside the court system.

Mediators may freely answer parties’ questions regarding the mediation process, but must refrain from offering opinions about probable outcome or recommended course of action.  As mentioned above, mediators should answer with clarity and transparency, freely saying “I don’t know” and referring parties to court for those answers.