Mediation is essentially a supervised negotiation session between two or more parties. It is an informal and non adversarial process whose objective is to reach a mutually acceptable and voluntary agreement. With mediation, all decision-making authority rests entirely with the parties. The mediator acts as a facilitator, guiding the parties in identifying issues, engaging in joint problem-solving, and exploring creative settlement alternatives.

Although the process is voluntary and nonbinding, it results in a strikingly high settlement rate. Parties are generally more satisfied with a mediated solution created by them than with an outcome imposed on them by a judge or jury.

The use of mediation is popular in both the private and public sectors, particularly for legal and business disputes. The WAMS panel of professional mediators is recognized for its depth of experience and creative approaches to conflict resolution throughout the Pacific Northwest.


Parties involved in arbitration are effectively opting out of the court system and submitting their dispute for resolution by a neutral, third party arbitrator. Arbitration is generally faster, less expensive and more informal than going to court. It also has the advantage of being private and confidential.

Federal, state and county laws govern the arbitration process in conjunction with published Rules of Arbitration used by most professional arbitrators. Within the limits permitted by law, parties are free to negotiate some of the ground rules for their arbitration, such as the number of arbitrators or High-Low parameters. Such agreed provisions are included in a written Contract to Arbitrate. Binding arbitration clauses can also be written into most kinds of contracts, requiring any dispute arising out of the contract to be resolved by arbitration instead of litigation. A Notice of Intent to Arbitrate (also called a “Demand for Arbitration”) is used to initiate arbitration under an arbitration clause.

The decision of an arbitrator is as binding on the parties to the arbitration as a court judgment and can be enforced by the courts, if necessary.