Thoughts on construction law from Christopher G. Hill, Virginia construction lawyer, LEED AP, mediator, and member of the Virginia Legal Elite in Construction Law

Don’t Forget to Mediate the Small Stuff

A simple statistical mediation model.
A simple statistical mediation model. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

It’s been a while since I talked mediation here at Construction Law Musings. Those that read regularly (thanks) have likely missed my musings on the topic. Those who read this construction blog regularly also know that I am both a Virginia Supreme Court certified general district court mediator and a huge advocate of mediation as a method to resolve construction disputes. While many of us think of mediation as a method to resolve the major disputes or litigation that occasionally rear their heads in the course of running a construction law practice or construction business, my experience as both a construction attorney and a mediator has taught me something: mediation works for all sizes of cases.

As an advocate for my construction clients, I know that proper trial preparation requires the same diligence and attention to detail for a smaller case as it does for a larger case. While a smaller case in the Virginia general district court may not have the depositions, written discovery and motions practice that a Virginia circuit court case may have, it still requires witness preparation, document processing and review and many of the other aspects of a larger case. While construction litigation is never a money maker in the best of circumstances, in the smaller cases the attorney fees often total a larger percentage of the total potential recovery. For this reason, the small cases are almost better suited for a quick mediated resolution than the larger ones. The larger cases may cost more to prosecute or defend, but the fees are less likely to eat up such a large percentage of any recovery.

Because of this issue of the cost to recovery ratio, I encourage you to check with the clerk or judge in your local Virginia general district court where you may have a case pending to see if there are mediators like me that can help resolve these matters early and before the costs get out of hand. Not only do we work for the Court (meaning you don’t have to pay for our time), we are trained and certified to help you out. Finally, if you’re in Goochland General District Court on a Monday, check out the gallery, you may see me sitting there.

As always, I welcome your comments below. Please subscribe to keep up with this and other Construction Law Musings.

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