ONLINE MEDIATIONS: THE NEW NORMAL?
At Pacific ADR we have responded to office closures mandated as a result of the Covid-19 virus by rolling out online/video conferencing mediation methods. Whether or to what extent this technology will be an adequate substitute for in person mediation remains to be seen. This post summarizes the challenges presented by the expected wide application of video technology to mediation. In this and future posts we will identify best (and worst!) mediation practices related to this technology.
Here are a few initial thoughts:
- Careful Preparation. Video mediation is likely to require that attorneys spend more time preparing their clients for mediation than is often the case with traditional in person mediation. In addition to making sure that clients are adept at using technology, lawyers need spend whatever time it takes pre mediation to make sure that the client understands the plusses and minuses of their case. Leaving the first real discussion of risk to the mediator, often true in traditional mediation, is never a good idea. With video mediation it will be more difficult for mediators to quickly earn and keep the trust of parties as opposed to being in the room.
- Learn The Technology. Prior to mediation, attorneys should practice with the particular video technology that will be used at mediation. Pacific ADR will assist in this but, especially if attorney and client will not be at the same location during mediation, extra practice may be necessary. It is important to note that you should be comfortable with whichever technology you are using, be it ZOOM, Skype, Microsoft Teams, or teleconferencing. A trial run-through may be beneficial for those who have not used these technologies before.
- Allow Enough Mediation Time! Attorneys and mediators should anticipate glitches in the early use of video mediation. The obstacles may be technical or they may result from party participation from several or even many different locations and/or time zones. These realities almost certainly will require at least incrementally more mediation time than would a similar case mediated in person.
The above topics are just a few examples of what mediators, attorneys and parties are likely to encounter with video mediation. In following posts, we will be discussing other examples.
We at Pacific ADR stand ready to assist you. Should you want to know more about online dispute resolution, please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org
By Gregg Bertram
President, Pacific ADR Consulting, LLC