Let’s Chat Beforehand.
I like to talk with the lawyers involved in an upcoming mediation, separately and privately, usually a day or two before the mediation session, and preferably after I have received and read the mediation statements or briefs.
I think it’s beneficial to me as mediator, to the lawyers (and their clients), and to the process.
There’s a lot of ground we can cover in advance.
I can ask substantive questions about the underlying dispute.
If there are important documents that have not been sent, I can request them.
I can ask about joint sessions vs. private caucuses and other preferences the lawyers may have.
I can learn from the attorney whether he/she needs my assistance to help him/her with the client … or with opposing counsel.
We can discuss who is attending … or should attend.
We can develop rapport with another.
My favorite question is this: “What should I know from you that you didn’t want to put in writing?”
Often the response to that question alone gives me significant insight as to the conflict.
There are many reasons to speak with one another beforehand and I think that most professional mediators make calls like this.
But if the lawyer doesn’t receive such a call from his/her mediator, it is OK for him or her to make the call.
I can’t think of a mediator who would not relish the opportunity for this kind of conversation in advance.
David I. Karp is a full time independent mediator of real estate and business disputes in Southern California. His website is at http://karpmediation.com .