Dispute Resolution Centre — Beaverton, Oregon

Many cases that come to mediation sound like they belong in a courtroom or a therapist’s office. But mediators say they aren’t judges, advocates or counselors. Mediation is typically voluntary and confidential, and mediators say their role is to get information out and let both sides be heard.

The idea is for both parties to “make knowing decisions,” said Irvin Foster, executive director of the National Association for Community Mediation.

Even if the mediator thinks one side is getting the better end of a deal, it’s not his place to intervene, said Jim Brooks, program coordinator for the Beaverton Dispute Resolution Center.

(Hat-tip: Stephanie West Allen)