Forthcoming in Journal of Empirical Legal Studies.


This article provides a glimpse into the worlds of mediation and settlement negotiation. Because they are almost always private, there has been relatively little empirical analysis of the dynamics of settlement or mediation. This article analyzes a unique data set derived from a mediator’s contemporaneous notes of mediations involving employment disputes, such as claims of discrimination or wrongful termination. Although the data set includes over four hundred cases, since they were all mediated by a single mediator, this article can be viewed as a case study. Among the most interesting facts uncovered by this analysis are the following. Mediation can be extremely effective in facilitating settlement. The mediator studied here achieved a settlement rate of over 94%. There are very few gender differences, whether one looks at the gender of the plaintiff or the gender of the lawyers. For example, settlement rates are the same for male and female plaintiffs and lawyers. On average, cases settle much closer to the defendant’s first offer than the plaintiff’s, irrespective of case type, size of law firm, or other factors. A mediator’s proposal appears to be the most effective mediation technique. A mediator’s proposal was used in almost ninety percent of cases, and, when it was used, the settlement rate was over ninety-nine percent.


Civil Rights and Discrimination | Dispute Resolution and Arbitration | Labor and Employment Law | Law | Law and Economics | Law and Gender | Law and Society | Litigation

Date of this Version