Traditional mediation is an obscenely inefficient tool for resolving money damage disputes. No surprise there – it was designed to settle child custody disputes!

1 Hour Mediations are specifically designed to resolve disputes over money.  This process builds on our 32 years of experience in resolving tort and contract disputes. It involves one and sometimes two steps:

  Step 1:  Settlement Testing    
  Step 2 (if necessary):  Impasse Breaking

Key Advantages for Plaintiffs:

  • The cost is low.
  • The time required is modest.
  • You get direct access to the person with the money.
  • The victim does not get beat up, as so often happens in traditional mediation.

Step 1:  Settlement Testing

Each 1 Hour Mediation begins with a sorting process (“Settlement Testing”) which makes it safe for both sides to be honest about their Best Number.  No speeches. No posturing.  We safely cut to the chase to learn how close or far apart the parties REALLY are.
•    While Testing, the negotiators do not get to see the other side’s numbers.  It is very safe.
•    It is also fast—most cases can be thoroughly Tested in 18 minutes. It can be done in person, or online (i.e. without traveling from your office.)  
•    Most importantly, in its initial stages Settlement Testing has resolved over 70% of our cases. 
Teach yourself how Settlement Testing works with this free demo:

Step 2:  Impasse Breaking

When Testing uncovers a genuine impasse, we use the remaining time in your 1 Hour Mediation as follows:  
•    Each side provides confidential answers to four diagnostic questions. (10 minutes) 

•    We analyze the answers and propose an Impasse Breaker tailored to resolve your unique dynamics as quickly and fairly as possible. (20 minutes)   

•    If both parties see the logic of the proposed Impasse Breaker we use it to close the file. (time varies)

•    If either side objects to the proposed Impasse Breaker, both parties walk away from the 1 Hour Mediation knowing they made an honest effort to settle. You learn this without wasting an entire day.

A sampling of First Court Impasse Breakers


Thread the Needle

  • First Court looks at the "best number" from each side and recommends an up or down final number for closing the file. Also known as "Mediator's Number." Useful as an Impasse Breaker following a Settlement Testing session. ($100/party)


  • First Court shares a one-page summary of the case with a handful of people you respect for having good judgment. Re record their telephic reactions to help everyone see the case more objectively. ($1,400/party)

Neutral Expert

  • First Court hires a neutral expert to give feedback on technical issues. Excellent impasse breaker in cases that boil down to a "Battle of the Experts."  ($2,500 + actual costs incurred.)

Mediation: Video or Traditional

  • Parties get together for opening statements and shuttling back and forth with various numbers. Useful for cases with significant emotional overlays. ($695/hour + actual costs)



Traditional fee:  $495/party

This includes Settlement Testing and the Impasse Breaking Plan, if needed. 

Some plans will involve an additional expense. By agreeing to 1 Hour Mediation you are NOT obligated to pay any such additional charge. Instead, you will have the option of agreeing to any Plan we draft for you only AFTER you have had an opportunity to read and consider the Plan with your negotiating team.