Guest Columnist: Mediator Kathryn L. McHale of Kathryn L. McHale, LLC
Mediation is a form of alternative dispute resolution. It is a time-tested, cost-effective alternative to litigation. A mediator is a neutral third party who helps the parties understand the issues in a dispute and assists each side to reach an agreement. You may have heard that the best settlement or mediation is when everyone leaves unhappy because that means they all gave up something. How can you have the best mediation?
The decision makers must participate. With most, if not all, mediations by Zoom these days, the decision makers should be participating as they can be available by phone, if not in person on Zoom. The adjuster who has the authority is listening to the mediation and can then make the decision on whether to settle or not. He or she is given the real time opportunity to gain a realistic understanding of the dispute.
The choice of a mediator. – Why is a mediator chosen? Your attorney will most likely select the mediator that he or she feels is the best fit for your case. Mediators should be a good listener, a people person who can handle all types of personalities, a deal maker, and someone who can handle the technology challenges we face with Zoom mediations.
Be patient. Some things take time. – We live in a timed world. Most mediations take time too. When you set aside two hours for a mediation, that may not be enough time. Mediations involve change. Change involves time to change. It takes time to address these issues, and it takes time for people to change their minds. Your mediator should be patient too to help facilitate the change in positions.
Problem solving. – A resolution or signed settlement agreement is the ultimate goal of every mediation. How do you get there? Problem solving involves creativity and an open mind. Be open to ideas generated from the mediator as to how you can close the gap to a settlement. Let the mediator help reconcile the interests as he/she hears both sides and can utilize that information to help facilitate a resolution.
What if we don’t settle? – Sometimes the parties just need a little more time to think about what they heard, saw or learned at the mediation. You should know more about your case after a mediation. Their strength is maybe not as strong as they thought. The other party’s weakness was not really a weakness, legally. You selected the mediator to help you get across the finish line and when you think you can get there with just a little more communication let the process continue even after you have left that Zoom call.
Kathryn L. McHale, Esq., B.C.S.
Kathyrn L. McHale, LLC