As any experienced neutral knows, there are several different approaches to mediation: facilitative, evaluative and transformative. The key to being a successful mediator, as far as the parties are concerned? Adopting oneself to fit each mediation’s particular needs.
Evaluative mediation is a process modeled on settlement conferences held by judges, where the goal is often to address the legal rights of the parties, as opposed to their needs and interests. An evaluative mediator assists the parties in reaching resolution by pointing out the weaknesses of their cases and predicting the conclusion a judge or jury might come to. Next, an evaluative mediator might make formal or informal recommendations to the parties as to the outcome of the issues. An evaluative mediator structures the mediation process and directly influences the outcome of mediation.
In facilitative mediation, the neutral creates a process designed to assist the parties in reaching a mutually agreeable resolution. The mediator asks questions, validates and normalizes parties’ points of view, searches for interests underneath the positions taken by parties, and assists the parties in finding and analyzing options for resolution. However, the facilitative mediator does not make recommendations to the parties, give his or her own advice or opinion as to the outcome of the case, or predict what a court would do in the case. This neutral’s goal is to have the parties make major decisions, as opposed to the parties’ attorneys.
Transformative mediation is the newest mediation type, and most ‘liberal.’ Based on the goal of establishing the parties’ individual empowerment and allowing them to recognize the other parties’ needs, interests, values and points of view, transformative mediators hope to allow and support the parties in mediation in determining the direction of their own process. In transformative mediation, the parties structure both the process and the outcome of mediation, and the mediator follows their lead.
Of course, each mediation case is unique and requires an experienced mediator to determine the best course of action to take with the parties. A transformative process might not work with a party looking to the mediator for a quick, judicious resolution and vice versa.
Bruce A. Friedman is a mediator with a national practice. With years of litigation experience behind him, he understands the goals of the mediation process and will do his best to ensure that the needs of both parties are met, justly and efficiently. For more information on the mediation services that Bruce A. Friedman provides, check out his website at http://www.FriedmanMediation.com or call him at (310) 201-0010.