One of the things I enjoy most about my job as a mediator is the flexibility inherent in the mediation process I utilize. Typically, I’m assuming, you see mediation as a process where you can confidently come together with other parties involved in litigation, call a timeout, and determine if the parties can reach an agreement to resolve the case. This is how I’m asked to lead mediations about 95% of the time. However, there are other circumstances in which I’ve been hired as a mediator, some of which may surprise you.
I would say all of those cases were ripe for mediation at the time I was asked to mediate them. How can that be? Simple. In each case, the attorneys/parties had the right information, and a strong enough desire to settle, in order to make good decisions. Could those cases, which were further into the judicial process, have been resolved sooner? Possibly. But in retrospect, I don’t think they were ready until we mediated them.
Regardless of the hat I’m wearing at the time — mediator, litigator, friend, brother, husband, father, and now grandfather — I struggle with the desire to be right. Always right. I recently read a post on the Mediate.com blog by Loraine Segal entitled The Seductiveness of Being Right. St. Augustine, a pillar of the early church, regularly prayed “Oh Lord, deliver me from the lust of always vindicating myself.” Can you identify with this? The desire to be right truly is seductive, and it’s not helpful.
I’ve been doing appellate mediation since the program began, and I’ve been genuinely surprised by the success rate. At the program’s inception, I anticipated a significantly lower success rate than I’ve had with non-appellate mediations — but it’s about 70%, which isn’t much lower than my rate for other matters.
I mediate a wide range of disputes — from automobile accidents, product liability claims, death claims and construction disputes to dissolution of business and professional practices, will contests, contract disputes and medical liability claims. I even occasionally mediate church splits.Given the variety of disputes I work on, I need flexibility in the mediation models I use — and the models I use are almost always either Joint Session, Caucus, or a combination of the two.