My Approach to Mediation
After having participated in a vast number of mediations as an advocate and as a mediator, I have developed certain principles which I believe will assist lawyers and parties in working toward a just resolution of their respective disputes. They include the following:
- Requesting and Reviewing Materials Prior to Scheduled Mediation.
In order for the mediator to truly assist in the process designed to reach a just resolution of a dispute, I believe the parties should submit mediation material adequate to educate the mediator as to the facts and issues necessary to be resolved. I will in fact read and study these materials in order to educate myself prior to the mediation. It will not be at all unusual for me to call the lawyers for both sides to ask questions to further educate myself and/or clarify my thinking regarding the issues in dispute.
In order to effectively assist the lawyers and their clients in working toward a just resolution of a dispute a mediator must listen carefully to what is being said by all parties. It is somewhat similar to carefully listening to what a witness is saying from the witness stand so that you can ask appropriate and detailed follow-up questions in order to educate a jury.
- Establish Trust and Confidence.
Hopefully, the lawyers utilizing my services as a mediator will already have trust and confidence in me, but it will be important for me to develop the same in their clients. For the process to be as successful as possible, all participants must understand and respect my neutrality and role. I will work to develop that trust and confidence.
- Honest and Willing to Answer Questions.
I believe successful mediators must be honest in the process and have the experience, knowledge and willingness to answer questions posed to them during the process. I certainly do not mean to indicate that the ultimate decision will ever be mine, but that I am willing to give my honest thoughts and impressions where appropriate.
- Honor Confidences.
It is vital to the process that the lawyers and their clients fully trust the mediator to honor what is shared in confidence and that it not be communicated to the other side without authorization to do so.
- It Ain’t Over Till It’s Over.
Mediation is a process. Each mediation must have a beginning time, but there is no way to appropriately schedule an ending point. As long as progress toward a just resolution is being made, the process needs to be allowed to continue. I will offer to remain involved for whatever period of time it takes even after the formal mediation has terminated, if counsel believe my assistance will be of benefit to the parties.