Processes offered

We offer a complete range of cooperative dispute resolution processes. This page is designed to familiarize you with our processes. Those working under the Fresno Court Rules on ADR will note that most of the processes suggested by those rules are offered here. We are able to offer intervention services for all types of disputes. We serve the central valley and beyond.

Those who have cases between governments or matters between groups that seem intactible are invited to call. Intractibility is one of our specialty areas. We have experience on five continents and are ready to serve.

Negotiation Coach

Stuck in a negotiation? Bring in our negotiation coach to help you analyze the situation and make suggestions about how to move beyond impasse. You may choose, based on the coach's advice, to use some other method of dispute resolution, or you may get what you need to finish the negotiation.


Mediation is the basic cooperative process which uses a facilitator. It involves two or more parties or sides, and a mediator. The mediator guides the process and creates a safe place for the parties to work, but does not decide the issues. There is no agreement until the parties make one. This process can be used before litigation to avoid litigation, during litigation to focus or eliminate issues, and after litigation to resolve issues which might otherwise be appealed. Mediation can also be used in execution of judgments.

There are many variations of style and content among mediations and mediators. The basic variation is in the mediator's position on the continuum between evaluative and facilitative styles. The evaluative style is best known to attorneys, who experience something like it in court settlement conferences. The evaluative mediator takes positions on the issues and advocates for them, working to obtain agreement from the parties. This style is more appropriate when the relationship between the parties is less important, as in an insurance claim or other commercial process where the parties have no relationship outside the incident in question. The facilitative mediator takes no positions on the issues, and is primarily concerned with creating a process which will help the parties reach agreement. When the relationship between the parties is important, the facilitative style is usually preferred.

Mediators are seldom purely evaluative or facilitative. The styles can be used together in various combinations. It is important to know what your mediator's style is, and to decide whether that is appropriate to the case. Mediation Associatessm can provide both types of mediation.

There is also a variation in preference between direct and indirect mediation. In the direct style the parties meet face-to-face. Many cultures prefer the indirect method in which the mediator moves back and forth between the parties. Mediation Associatessm can provide both types of mediation.

Early Neutral Evaluation

When litigation has commenced, it can be to everyone's benefit to have a neutral person hear a brief presentation of both sides of the case and then give his or her evaluation of the case to the parties. Briefs, witnesses and oral argument can be used in any combination desired. The goal is to have neutral feedback on the strengths and weaknesses of your case to facilitate settlement discussions. This process can be very helpful when an attorney and client disagree about the strength of a case, or where the case turns on a point of law or evidentiary matter. Mediation Associatessm offers ENE.

Private Settlement Conference

Where the style of a traditional court settlement conference is desired, the parties can hire a neutral to perform the judge's function. A private neutral is usually more convenient for the parties and can be just as effective in helping the parties and their attorneys to see their case through neutral eyes. The neutral performs an evaluative function and advocates for settlement on terms which the neutral believes to be appropriate given that evaluation. Mediation Associatessm offers private settlement conferences.


A combination of the Voluntary Settlement Conference and Mediation allows the mediator to meet privately with the attorneys, as would happen in a court settlement conference, but to also bring the parties together in a mediation session where they can work toward agreement with the benefit of their counsels' work with the neutral. This combination of evaluative and facilitative styles can be very effective, and is offered by Mediation Associatessm.


A combination deposition and mediation. The attorneys question a witness in usual deposition style, and then the parties move into a mediation session with the benefit of that testimony. This process can be very helpful when evidentiary issues are important. It is common for differing views of what a witness will say to block settlement. This process eliminates those questions. This useful process offered by Mediation Associatessm.

Mix and Match

There is nothing sacrosanct about any of these processes. They can be mixed and combined in any way the parties desire. What they all have in common is a mediator who helps the parties settle the case, but makes no decision for them beyond the process itself. These processes are all voluntary, all confidential under the California Evidence Code, and all offer parties much more control over the outcome than adjudication does. Call Mediation Associatessm for a free consultation.

Call 559-281-2660 or

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We serve clients throughout Central California, including the cities of Bakersfield, Bass Lake, Chowchilla, Clovis, Coalinga, Coarsegold, Corcoran, Delano, Dinuba, Exeter, Farmersville, Firebaugh, Fowler, Hanford, Huron, Kerman, Kingsburg, Lemoore, Lemoore Naval Air Station, Lindsay, Madera, Mendota, Merced, North Fork, Oakhurst, Orange Cove, Parlier, Porterville, Reedley, Sanger, San Joaquin, Selma, Tulare, Visalia, Woodlake, as well as Fresno County, Kern County, Kings County, Madera County, Merced County, Tulare County, Kings Canyon National Park, Sequoia National Park, and Yosemite National Park. We have provided services nationwide and around the world.

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©2018 Duane Ruth-Heffelbower