Over the course of thirty years Steve has participated with his clients in hundreds of mediations. In addition, Steve has served as a mediator in many different kinds of cases including medical malpractice, personal injury cases, and insurance bad faith.
Before a civil case goes to trial, judges usually require the parties to attempt to settle their dispute through mediation. In general, a mediator is a neutral person, usually a lawyer or judge, who solicits position statements from each side and then works with them in an effort to settle. The mediation charges are on an hourly rate plus expenses for his or her services.
For the past 30 years, Steve has served as a mediator primarily in injury and death cases. However, Steve has mediated a variety of cases including disputes involving insurance coverage, contracts, bad faith insurance claims, and many others.
Mediation is an inexpensive approach to settling a case. The process usually takes a day or less. The case settles or it does not. If the case does not settle the parties are free to go to trial. Neither the Judge nor the Jury knows the case went through a mediation process. That is because mediations are confidential.
At mediation, the parties control their destiny. If settlement is achieved the dispute is over, money is paid, and closing documents are signed within a few days or weeks. Without settlement, the parties hand over control of the case to the jury—usually 12 complete strangers who bring their life experiences to bear on the case. No responsible attorney can guarantee the result a jury may deliver. Furthermore, there is increased expense and time going forward with a jury trial. Even after the jury enters a verdict one side may decide to appeal the decision. An appeal can take a year or more. The decision can be affirmed, reversed for a new trial, or reversed with judgment for the other side. In other words, litigation can go on a long time. Mediation which results in settlement ends the litigation process. Knowing when to settle or to go to trial requires the judgment of a skilled trial attorney.
I have known Steve Harman since our days as students at the University of Montana Law School in the early 1970’s. He has a well-deserved reputation as one of the best trial lawyers in the state, with an unmatched diversity of experience trying cases. That experience has made him a go-to mediator for me. I use him to mediate cases as often as I can and have never been disappointed by doing so, even when – as sometimes happens – we cannot get a case settled.
Recently, Steve conducted a mediation in a complex workers’ compensation insurance bad faith case for my client. The case involved several complex legal issues and two defendants much appreciated Steve’s work at eventually getting the case settled. The most valuable work Steve undertook was the pre-mediation efforts he employed to identify and address major issues prior to the mediation. I believe his pre-mediation work was invaluable in bringing the parties together.
I recommend Steve Harman to anybody to handle their client’s mediation