Keeping Mediations Safe During the Pandemic Using Virtual Mediation

Lakeside Mediation Center                 One of the regrettable consequences of the pandemic is that COVID-19 has become a political issue. Lakeside Mediation has objectively examined the current health science regarding the virus and will not conduct in-person mediations (as much as we very much miss them) until doing so is safe and worry-free for all participants. Our reasoning is as follows: We now know people are infectious before they have symptoms, so absence of symptoms or fever does not eliminate concern.Vulnerability of each participant depends on age, immune system, and pre-existing conditions. There are too many variables to safely control.Social distancing works well outside and in large spaces. Density of people, quality of ventilation, and, most importantly, duration or length of exposure are all critical factors.During in-person mediation, the risks are greater because participants spend more time together. Six feet of spacing even with masks for lengthy periods indoors is no guarantee of safety.Mediation with masks and social distancing and none of the usual amenities is less personal in Lakeside’s opinion.Mediation participants are stressed enough about their conflicts to have health concerns superimposed on them.We do not want the lawyers we value to have their judgment challenged, or worse be liable, for failure to advise their clients about virtual alternatives or for insisting on in-person mediations when effective virtual alternatives are available.With nearly 100 virtual mediations under our belts, Lakeside Mediation has determined that settlement rates at virtual mediation are the same if not slightly higher than in-person mediation. Lakeside Mediation’s only concern is to provide a safe and comforting environment to all who have entered our doors the...

How to Make Zoom Mediations More Personal and Successful

Lakeside Mediation Center Have a ten-minute consult with the mediator before the virtual mediation to discuss logistics and have any questions about how the virtual mediation platform will be used.Exchange cell phone numbers in the event of an unexpected technical glitch. This will also allow a secondary method of communication.Avoid the urge to get directly to work. Some people worry that virtual mediation will be sterile. It doesn’t have to be, and a little time getting to know each other can put everyone at ease.Although Lakeside has done nearly 100 virtual mediations, virtual mediations are new for many and we are all learning to adapt to the technology. We are all really in this together.Look into your device’s camera the way you look into someone’s eyes when you are making a point. You don’t have to do this continuously.You will have a discreet and private caucus room and you can, as in person, meet privately without the mediator. The mediator can leave your caucus room. You may text the mediator when you wish to visit again or you may use the chat function.Screen share is available on Zoom to display documents, photographs, or PowerPoint.In addition to protecting the health of the participants, Zoom overcomes logistical problems and travel costs. Zoom allows the mediator to discuss matters with decision-makers visually instead of only by telephone.Zoom mediations are actually more personal than mediations following current guidelines requiring participants to wear masks, social distance, not share food, and be concerned about their health.Settlement rates at Zoom mediations to date have been on par with in-person mediations – if not slightly better. Eric GaltonGreg BourgeoisBen...