A mediation is an attempt to resolve a case short of trial. Generally a retired judge or trained lawyer get the parties together and try to get a settlement. This can save a lot of time and money. This week, I'm mediating a case that I already have $35,000 in and it will cost me another $50,000 to prepare the case for trial. This is all money that I get reimbursed from my client at the end of the case if the case is successful. It's better that that money gets returned to my client in terms of compensation rather than to me in terms of expenses.
Many cases settle in mediation short of trial. It's always worth an attempt. Mediations generally cost about $2,000 a side.