It's also important to remind yourself and help your clients keep an open mind. Mediation is flexible and constructive, but it is easy to only focus on the dollar amount without thinking about other nonmonetary solutions. Some of the most rewarding settlements can be facilitated through a better understanding of nonlegal bases for the initial dispute, restoration of business or personal relationships, policy or industry reform, or renegotiation of contract terms. Many times, clients will have to work together again and mediation can help to keep that relationship intact as much as possible. Creativity is encouraged in developing strategies for settlement whether a complex business dispute or an emotionally charged matter.
If your case does not settle in the allotted time reserved for the mediation session, use this opportunity to work toward settlement by providing a summary of your clients' position to the mediator. Encourage the mediator to keep in close contact with the lawyers to explore options outside the initial discussions to see the matter through closure.
By incorporating some of these recommendations into your next mediation, you will demonstrate your legal skills and process expertise to your clients and to your partners. Why not become a mediation expert, thereby leading the path toward dispute resolution in the 21st century?
Vicki Satrap is vice president of the JAMS northwest region. She oversees operations for the region's Resolution Centers throughout Northern California and Washington, and is responsible for creating new business opportunities and the implementation of regional and national marketing initiatives. She can be reached at email@example.com.