Mediation Services at Common Ground

At Common Ground, we excel in mediation services, skillfully navigating settlements in both litigated cases and pre-litigation matters. Our approach centers on the expertise of a neutral mediator, offering an alternative to the traditional American legal adversary system, which often presents significant challenges in reaching agreed dispositions.

Our mediation services cater to a diverse range of cases, from simple injury claims to intricate business disputes, including specialized areas like Family Law and Probate. Recognizing the uniqueness of each case, we avoid one-size-fits-all solutions, instead tailoring our mediation to the specific needs of each situation. This might mean a brief session for a large-damage case or multiple, extended sessions for seemingly smaller issues.

Key to our service is the pre-mediation consultation, where our mediator meticulously prepares for the mediation by setting parameters including length, cost, participants, location, terms, and medium (virtual, in-person, or hybrid). Post-mediation follow-up is a hallmark of our commitment to comprehensive service.

Our expertise spans a wide range of areas: major personal injury, business torts, contract disputes, partnership and corporate conflicts, agricultural matters, oil and gas cases, alternative energy, water issues, banking, labor and employment, products liability, class actions, as well as family law, probate, estate, and trust matters. We also mediate business-related issues such as partnership or corporate dissolutions and marital dissolution outside of litigation.

We are transparent about our suitability for your mediation needs. If a matter does not align with our practice, we promptly inform the involved parties. All mediations are governed by a written agreement, ensuring confidentiality under the California Evidence Code.


While we emphasize the settlement of disputes, there are cases that require a forum other than the court system by contract or stipulation. Subject to available calendar dates, we provide for arbitration under the California arbitration rules, as well as arbitration subject to the federal rules of arbitration. Unlike many ADR companies, we maintain a small private hearing room for testimony and advocacy.

Temporary Judgeships

Many are unfamiliar with the concept of using Temporary Judges by stipulation. The California Rules of Court at Title 2, Division 6, Chapter 2, provide that parties may stipulate to an order of appointment of a temporary judge for adjudication of all or part of any civil litigation. The advantage of this process is that it remains a constitutional adjudication, rather than a purely private determination, preserving, for instance, the right of appeal or writ. Temporary Judgeships are used infrequently, because there is no suitable venue. Because Common Ground maintains a hearing room setting, these matters may be appropriately noticed under the Rules. Common Ground arranges for and provides for all necessary services (including security, clerk’s minutes, and court reporting) to preserve a constitutional process. In fact, Common Ground encourages the use of Temporary Judgeships, including in mediated matters. Because the law requires a Mandatory Settlement Conference, litigants may consider stipulating to a Temporary Judge in mediated matters so that, by order, the mediation becomes a Mandatory Settlement Conference, avoiding duplication of cost and expense. Parties and attorneys are afforded the same seriousness, substance and weight of a trial courtroom. In the event that a public courtroom is made available upon showing of good cause (such as, for jury trials) we are available to preside.

Appointed Referee

Common Ground also provides services for trial by reference, or discovery references, as set forth in California Code of Civil Procedure, Title 8, Chapter 6 (section 638, et seq.). Many matters or issues are suitable for timely and cost-effective resolution through the reference process. Common Ground is able to provide litigating parties the opportunity for prompt informal or formal resolution of disputes without resort to costly motion practice which frequently results in protracted delays due to our several impacted trial court calendars. We are able to conduct informal discovery conferences under Code of Civil Procedure section 2016.080.

Virtual Appearances

Personal appearance by all necessary persons is preferred. The physical presence of those with ultimate settlement authority is one the key necessities of successful negotiation. Also, in-person availability of witnesses in contested matters is frequently critical to the assessment of credibility. Nevertheless, Common Ground recognizes that personal appearance is sometimes impractical, and we provide suitable platforms and facilities for virtual remote attendance at proceedings, including mediations.

Selective Counsel

Common Ground will also provide separate counsel in selected matters, not inconsistent with serving as an agreed neutral. Many attorneys may wish a “second opinion” on certain legal questions, or wish to conduct focus group sessions under the guidance of a neutral judge. Such services are rare, because they may create conflicts for the conduct of Common Ground’s principal services.

Mediation Fees:

The mediation fee includes administrative setup, preliminary workup, and preparation. Costs for complex matters or those involving travel will be negotiated during an unbilled preliminary conference with all parties and the mediator, based on the matter’s length and nature of retention.

Mediation Payment Policy:

Advance payment is required upon agreement and/or invoicing, based on the booked time estimate, to secure your mediation date(s). This payment serves as a true retainer, guaranteeing the scheduled time. All mediation payments are subject to the following cancellation policy:

  • Cancellation before 90 days prior to the originally scheduled first arbitration session: Refund of the arbitration fee less the first session day fee and a $500.00 administrative fee.
  • Cancellation by 60 days prior to the originally scheduled first arbitration session: One-half of the arbitration fee refunded less the first session day fee and a $500.00 administrative fee.
  • Cancellation thereafter: No refund provided (except in the discretion of the Arbitrator).
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