Attending one’s first, or fifteenth, mediation can be nerve-wracking. You might not be sure where the other party stands or maybe you’ve never met the mediator and don’t know what kind of neutral to expect. No matter the reason, here are a few tips to make sure you can walk into your mediation with confidence.
1. Make sure you are prepared! This might sound obvious, but you’d be shocked at the number of lawyers who walk into a mediation without the faintest clue about what their client may or may not be comfortable with in terms of a settlement.
2. Be open and respectful. The mediator has a good deal of influence on the parties so establish and maintain credibility and trustworthiness with her throughout the process and seek the mediator’s advice on how to close the monetary gap between the parties.
3. Listen. Show your client, the other party, and the neutral that you are there in good faith and to see if the dispute can be resolved in a mutually beneficial way. Provide feed back and look for opportunities to agree, or remark, on shared interests.
4. Set reasonable expectations. Your mediation might not go as you planned, so be prepared for all potential next steps. Be prepared to continue the settlement discussion post mediation with the mediator and your client.
5. Don’t be an antagonist. This is a mediation, not a trial. There is nothing wrong with communicating your disagreement on the issues, but I suggest that you do so respectfully. Be firm but gentle. The goal is to make it easy for the mediator to see things your way!
6. Relax. You have an experienced mediator by your side who will walk you through the process. Don’t be afraid to ask questions of the mediator before, during, and after the mediation sessions.