Perspectives from a Mediator/Arbitrator

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Mediation tip #1 - Preparation

This is the first in a series of tips that I want to present to make the mediation experience more helpful and valuable. It is my hope that it will provide insight into the process for the people who are attending a first ever mediation but also help out the regulars.
I am surprised occasionally that the people attending the mediation are not fully prepared. Here is a quick list of things I think should be done beforehand:
1. Know the mediator. Who? What is he/she like? What are the mediator's areas of expertise? Has the lawyer ever mediated with him/her before?
2. Know the cost. What are the costs of the mediation? How long is it likely to last? Who is paying for the mediation?
3. Know the process. What is going to happen at the mediation? What is expected of me?
4. Prepare more than one offer. Usually most mediations will sooner or later come to the point where offers to settle are exchanged. Work out ahead of time at least your first and your second position. People are much more comfortable if there is a plan that can be followed.
5. Be open. Almost every mediation that I have done (and my rough count is at about 600 or so right now), something unexpected happens. It can be a new fact, it can be a change of position, it can be anything - you need to come to the mediation in a frame of mind where you can go with the flow of what is happening.

I am sure that as I work through the stages of mediation, I will think of more items that properly fit under the heading of preparation. Next tip - Style of mediation?


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