The No. 1 predictor of mediation success is whether the participants have come with a seriousness of purpose. They understand that mediation is their best chance to avoid delay and expense, not to mention a bad result. They have readied themselves to settle the case.
Why are you here?
Sure, the court may have ordered the parties to mediation. Look at this as a blessing. You might have struggled to get your opponent to the negotiating table. Now the court has done this for you. Moreover, instead of having to deal with insincere posturing, the mediator can filter communications to get to the crux of the dispute.
The participant who comes to mediation only because “opposing counsel wanted to do this” is throwing away an opportunity and dishonoring the client.
Have you prepared?
Mediation helps parties resolve disputes efficiently. Yet, both attorneys and their clients often show up for mediation completely unprepared. Being prepared doesn’t just mean knowing the facts and law of your case, though some mediation participants even disdain this basic step.
Before coming to mediation, double-check whether you have followed the mediator’s pre-mediation instructions and requirements. This is doubly important in an era of remote video mediation.
Evaluation is key
Take the time to thoroughly evaluate your case. Don’t think you can come in with an extreme number and wing it. Be prepared to explain your proposal, including why it is reasonable. What calculations were involved? Have you researched similar issues online so you can show how those precedents apply or are different?
The next step is to educate the client about that evaluation and plan your negotiation. Make sure you know who can grant settlement authority and line it up in advance of the mediation. The ultimate checkwriter should attend the mediation.
Come to mediation ready to settle, and chances are high that you will.
Attorney Teddy Snyder mediates workers' compensation cases throughout California. She can be contacted through snydermediations.com.
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