The Mediation Process with Debra Hamilton


In this week’s episode of Attorney Talk, Ken Thayer interviews Debra Hamilton, who is an attorney in the state of New York and is a member and principal of The Hamilton Law and Mediation Group. Debra is licensed to practice in New York State and certified as a mediator and collaborative professional. She has worked with various court-based mediation programs in New York City and during the show discuss the role of the mediator, the mediation process, and mediation for people on conflict over an animal.

 Main Questions Asked:

  •  What is mediation?
  • How long is the mediation process?
  • What is the final result in mediation?
  • When mediations end, are both parties bound by a contract?
  • If an agreement is rendered at the conclusion of mediation and one of the terms is broken, what is the recourse?
  • Is the use of mediation confined to certain areas of the law or is it wide open for two parties or more with a dispute?
  • How is your practice different from other practices when dealing with pet issues?
  • Do you find that veterinarian malpractice cases end up coming to a settlement?
  • How do you derive the number and valuation of pets?
  • What are the main misperceptions most people have of lawyers?

Key Lessons Learned:

  •  Arbitration is where people present their information, and the arbitrator decides who wins.
  • The arbitrator’s decision is final and not appealable to a court.


  • A good mediator will enable parties to talk via him or her to the other party and get both parties to talk to each other.
  • A mediator holds a safe space for each party to tell his or her story.
  • The mediator reflects the story back to each party.
  • Once one side has told their story, the other side does the same thing, so oftentimes both parties hear each other for the first time.
  • The mediator remains neutral throughout the proceedings.

 The Mediation Process 

  • Anyone can take a conflict to mediation before, during, and after litigation.
  • Mediation is a voluntary and confidential process that allows a ‘reality check.’
  • The mediation process expands to the time necessary. Some mediations take a few hours and others take years.
  • The parties involved in mediation split the fee equally, which make it a cost and time saving activity for all involved.
  • Mediations are party driven, so if someone doesn’t want to make an agreement, then they won’t and can’t be forced.
  • Anything said in mediation can’t be used against you at a future trial.

 The End Result 

  • If the parties don’t come to an agreement, then they can litigate and go to trial.
  • If the parties reach an agreement and one of the parties violates it, then they go back to mediation (if that is built into the agreement) or they go to trial.
  • Often the terms of the contract will be built into the mediation agreement so if there is a violation, the penalty outcome is already set.
  • The best way to end mediation is with an agreement contract.
  • 99% of the time when Debra does mediations, the outcome is reduced to writing that can be brought to court for enforcement.

 Pets and Mediation 

  • Animals, under the law, are seen as property.
  • If you want to address an animal for the way it is seen personally by you in your life rather than property, then you want to mediate before litigation.
  • Insurance companies have not yet embraced the use of mediation early for veterinarian medical malpractice. They have in medical malpractice.
  • Insurance companies feel waiting for litigation is the way to go because you can limit damages to the ‘property value’ of a pet.
  • Different courts are enabling more money to be recovered by pet owners whose animals died in a way that created emotional distress.
  • The value of an animal such as a dog is speculative and largely emotional, which is where the increased amounts are being found.
  • There is a huge cottage industry that transports pets of divorce between each other.

 Misperceptions of Mediation 

  • Most people don’t understand what mediation is and think it won’t work for them.
  • Mediation isn’t giving up your rights or a process by which you admit you have a weaker case.
  • Mediation is a way by which you have the strongest change to make a positive solution.

Thank you for listening! If you enjoyed this podcast, please subscribe and leave a 5 star rating and review in iTunes!

 Links to Resources Mentioned

Hamilton Law and Mediation

Phone: 914-273-1085


Click To Tweet  

 Do you have an understanding of mediation? Find out how it works w/ @Hlawmediation & Ken Thayer @gaylordpoppllc

 What are advantages of mediation when it comes to pets? Find out w/ @Hlawmediation & Ken Thayer @gaylordpoppllc  

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