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Statistics in Mediation

Statistics in mediation, excerpts by Stephen R. Marsh summarizing materials from the Fifth Annual ADR Institute of the State Bar of Texas, 1993.

Statistical data from the early 1990s that was collected in two major ADR centers in Texas.

 Statistics from Harris County, Texas
90% of the Harris County study's respondents were attorneys, of which 74% had been in practice for ten or more years.  Almost 40% of the attorneys who mediated had little or no trial experience.  

Half the mediators were chosen by the parties, 37% were appointed by judges.

Only thirty percent handled 5 or more mediations a month, and only about ten percent handled ten or more mediations a month.

Of the mediators, one third were highly successful (settlement rate 85%+), one third successful (settlement rate of 75% to 85%) and a substantial portion (about six percent) unsuccessful (settlement rate less than 50%).

Fees ranges from pro bono to $5,000.00 per day.

Reasons for mediations that failed to settle:

  • inadequate discovery 21%
  • lack of settlement authority 24%
  • unprofessional behavior and animosity/personality conflicts (% not recorded, one of the three most common problems).

Statistics from Dallas, Texas
"Many mediators take the position that subject matter expertise is not necessary for case resolution. ... it is often perceived by the parties or their counsel that the mediator's lack of subject matter knowledge or experience was a factor in the impasse."  

1992:  3136 cases settled (78.4%), 59 partly settled, 804 impasse (20.1%)

1993:  1144 cases settled (76.5%), 32 partly settled, 319 impasse (21.3%)

In 1993, a higher percentage of the participants reported that they were satisfied with the process and with the outcome.  Satisfaction went up, even though settlement rates went down.

There are substantial other databases.  However, these two were interesting for the basic comments and the focus of the numbers and the fact that these numbers have not been widely published.

Bibliography (excerpts from the twenty two subsections of the Institute's written materials that contain significant statistics).

Success Stories on ADR in Houston
Judge Carolyn Clause Garcia
October, 1993

Dallas Mediation Information System
Debbie Andres, ADR Coordinator
October, 1993

Post Script -- Comments from a Listserve
As Posted March 4/98

None of the studies outlined below found any savings for the court, for several reasons. Although trial rates may have gone down significantly, no staff was laid off and no courts closed. We speculate that we have been able to delay future expansion that otherwise would have been required, but proving such is almost impossible. Also, even if there was a present savings, finding the data to prove that is also basically impossible, for reasons too technical for a listserv. Email me if you really want to discuss it. We are not aware of any study anywhere that shows that ADR saves courts money. (With this series of postings, I am now aware of the in-house study done by a Conn insurance co.) We sold our programs on reduced time to disposition, reduced trial rates, increased litigant satisfaction and low cost to implement.

Stevens Clarke has been commissioned by the NC Bar Association, the NC Mediation Network and the NC Administrative Office of the Courts to study various ADR programs in North Carolina. All of these studies are available from the Insitute of Government, UNC, Chapel Hill, NC. Professor Clarke suggests that you e-mail your requests to him directly and he will provide you with the information that you need. He is at

The studies that he has done are:

Court-Ordered Arbitration in NC - a randomized scientific study of a pilot program in about 8 counties where all civil cases involving money damages under $15,000, excluding family matters, were referred to a one hour arbitration hearing, with a right of trial de novo if either party is disatisfied. The study found very high disposition rates, savings of time and satisfaction.

Mediation of Interpersonal Disputes - study of mediation in community justice center settings in 3 counties, with parallel controls. It found high satisfaction but inconclusive results on other measures, except for a significant reduction in trial rates in programs with high utilization, leading to speculation that the other programs would have tested out better if more cases went to mediation.

Court-Ordered Mediation in NC - study of the referral of cases to private mediators of all case in Superior Court (trial court for all cases over $10,000) in a pilot program in 10 counties, using a random assignment method. Found that disposition time was cut by about 2 months, no effect on amount paid by defendants, high satisfaction, a 70% settlement rate that cut the trial rate by about 1/3. Results were not as dramatic as in the arbitration program.

Mediated Settlement Conferences in Worker's Compensation Cases - study used random assignment and historical comparison groups to find very high settlement rates with significant impact on trial rates. The most effective program studied.

Mediation of Child Custody Disputes by Court Staff Mediators - study begin conducted now. Results should be out in a year or so.

About one half million dollars was raised from many grantors, including

State Justice Institute and the NC IOLTA Board of Trustees, to pay for these studies. A monograph of Court-Ordered Mediation in NC will be in the next Justice System Journal. Results of some of the other studies have also been published in journals or magazines.

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