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Wait, then hurry up: A New Pace in Mediation Practice.

September 4, 2012

In my past law practice, I counseled clients about the “hurry up and wait” phenomenon they would experience in their litigation due to the then pace of practice and the courts.  Now, as a mediator, I am seeing the development of the reverse: “wait, then hurry up.”

Much of the change, I think, results from the delays in litigation now being experienced by litigants and their attorneys due to the budgetary crisis of the courts and the ongoing shrinkage in court staff.

This has caused a slow-down in the delivery of court services by court personnel.

I have also seen a slow-down in the desire for early mediation because, I think, there are fewer adverse consequences to waiting – if there is no longer an imminent trial date looming, there is less immediacy for resolution.

I have one court connected mediation, assigned over a year ago, in which the parties are still not ready to schedule their mediation although a trial date is now looming (but probably will be continued).

In another assignment, which I just received in the mail over the Labor Day weekend, the mediation completion date is not until mid-June 2013. That’s nine months!  There is probably no hurry here. (But, it IS indicative of the change of pace for the courts.)

In any event, for both of these cases, and others, suddenly, but much later than before, maybe months later, the parties/counsel will want to schedule their mediations, but only just before they are really out of time.

The problem for them, however, is that others, now choosing private mediation, are moving faster to snap up available calendar dates.  These mediations, involving participants who either got tired of waiting for the court to do something, or have different needs, are scheduling their own private mediations, outside of the sphere of court-connected mediation, and at a much faster pace.

For instance, last week, four new private mediations were scheduled for just this month (September).

The question for mediators like me is how to serve these disparate timing needs.  I think the answer remains: Be flexible, educate the attorneys about scheduling, and have an accessible calendar online to help meet their needs.  For example, see http://karpmediation.com/calendaring.html

For the lawyers, a bit more advance planning wouldn’t hurt either.

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