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The Practical Side of Mediation – Calendaring

July 7, 2011

Perhaps the most challenging part of a mediation practice is the calendaring of future mediation sessions, particularly but not only when there are more than two sides to a conflict.  All of the lawyers’ calendars are full of depositions, court appearances, client meetings and other commitments.  Their clients’ calendars are busy too with the conduct of their business. My calendar fills as well, and changes all the time, sometimes daily sometimes hourly.

I try to help others with an up-to-date online list of my own available and unavailable dates on my website, at .  I refer people to it all the time, as a convenient and fair way of setting mediations on a first come first served basis.

In addition, I keep a month-at-a-glance calendar book with me, with the same information, so that I can assist with the setting of subsequent sessions if the parties and counsel wish to set one while at the day’s session.  When working in my office at my desk, I keep the same calendar book open for ready reference all day long.

Some people are amused at my old fashioned calendar book when I take it from my briefcase, rather than the smart phone version, but I like to be able to look at the whole month in a single glance.  A lawyer yesterday told me she has the same practice, for the same reason – she likes to see the bigger picture, as I do.

Besides, it’s hard to teach old dogs new tricks.  I have been using the same month-at-a-glance calendar for probably 15 years or more.

Why am I telling you this?  Well, yesterday, before a mediation session began, I went to a nearby office supply store for the new version of the book, the one that covers July 2011 to December 2012.

Afterward, I began the annual ritual of transcribing into the new one the commitments I had already written in the old.  This morning I completed preparing the calendar for use by adding in the court holidays … and also the Jewish holidays, which, in my practice in this community are not only necessary but appropriate, so that I and others will know, way in advance, when we can work, and when we won’t.

I know this too about the calendar.  The only constant is change.  People cancel/postpone their sessions all the time.  Online, it’s easy for me to make the changes as they occur.  In the old fashioned calendar I carry, I have learned to use yellow post-it notes to cover up the old and prepare for the new.  This way I can easily see how many changes there have been.  (Last month, eight of the pre-arranged mediations were changed, more than a third of the work days available in that month.)

I am not complaining.  It’s great to have that much work.  It’s just interesting to note this practical and important side of the practice.

Also, as with a new toy when I was little, I’m happy with my new calendar for next year, ready to be filled and re-filled with important dates.

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