Mediation has been used to resolve disputes long before lawyers adopted it as their own. It dates back to Ancient Greece and has been used in various forms by a number of civilisations, ethnic and religious groups, states and industries ever since.
Despite that long history, in the context of modern litigation, it began to gather momentum in the late 1980s and early 1990s. Its popularity coincided with the introduction of case management which compressed the litigation process into a much shorter duration. The effect of that was to also compress the cost of litigation.