Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Mediating Professor: Mediation Theory & Practice

Last week, I had the privilege of teaching the Mediation Theory & Practice class of my UWWM colleague Brandon Peters at FAMU College of Law. I was glad to find students bright and eager to learn the practical side of our profession. Our topic was representing clients at mediation. This required putting back on the advocacy hat and thinking about the process of mediation in a different way than in my daily job as mediator. As a neutral, we are motivated to facilitate the parties in making a decision for themselves. In examining how attorneys should represent clients at mediation, we reviewed the traditional role of a zealous advocate and what issues might arise during negotiations, such as lawyer-client conflicts of interest, non-economic concerns, and other potential inhibitors to a deal. Selecting attendees was also a big topic. In discussing this, we went over scenarios of a multi-party case and explored the attributes and potential influences of both large and small contingents at mediation, while keeping in mind confidentiality as paramount. Finally, we looked at preparation for mediation, including preparing the client and managing expectations for settlement. These components cannot be underestimated in achieving a successful result at mediation. It was truly refreshing to talk with law students about what we do as full-time neutrals on a regular basis and to be reminded of the important service that alternative dispute resolution neutrals provide to our court system.