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...

“Aikidation” (The Peaceful Martial Art of Mediation) by Ben J. Cunningham

The roles of mediators are varied and numerous: In the course and context of a single mediation session we might act as facilitators, counselors, conciliators, teachers, referees, diplomats, sages, idea generators, evaluators, moderators, negotiators, crisis intervention experts, detectives and psychologists, all while remaining an unbiased neutral in the dispute. The mediator is charged with the responsibility of providing a process and forum to resolve, manage, or transform conflicts. The profession of a mediator is not easily learned, nor is it easy once learned, and despite years of never-ending training and experience the mediator, no matter the skill level, strives continually (or rather, should strive continually) for and toward mastery. While training is critical and necessary, all the training in the world is only as good as our ability to incorporate what we learn theoretically into practical application based on our individual styles, experience, and personalities, coupled with the specific dynamics of the matter with which a mediator is dealing. Mediators are “peacemakers,” but that word often and inaccurately connotes passivity. The effective peacemaker is anything but passive; an effective “peacemaker” is not averse to conflict—to the contrary, the most effective mediators and conflict managers must learn to enter into conflict and embrace it, without becoming part of it. The more we learn about conflict resolution processes, human nature, the intricacies of specific disputes, and techniques for dealing with conflict, the better peacemakers we will become. The successful mediator is in fact a warrior, a warrior for peace. WHAT IS A WARRIOR FOR PEACE? First, what a warrior for peace is not. I insert here a personal note: Once upon...

The Lakeside Solution

What:  A flexible process that offers the benefits of both mediation and arbitration. The parties present their best case in front of two neutrals; one serving as an arbitrator and the other as a mediator. The mediator does not take part in the arbitration process and has no interaction or communications with the assigned arbitrator regarding the case. The mediator is an observer during the arbitration, using the arbitration as a method of learning the parties’ positions on the law and facts relating to the dispute. At the conclusion of the arbitration, while the arbitrator is drafting their decision, the matter will move directly into the afternoon mediation segment of the process. The decision will be sealed and kept in the possession of the arbitrator. If the case resolves during the mediation process, no arbitration decision will be rendered or revealed to the parties. For the remainder of the process period, or until impasse is reached – whichever event occurs first – the mediator will work with the parties in an attempt to reach an agreed upon resolution of the dispute. If the parties successfully resolve their conflict in mediation, then they will draft a Mediated Settlement Agreement to settle the matter on their own terms. If the parties are unable to resolve their differences in mediation, then the Arbitrator’s decision will be unsealed and be binding on the parties. The Arbitrator’s decision will only be rendered and binding in the event the case does not settle during the post-arbitration mediation process. Why: Cost-efficient assured resolution of the case matter in a designated time frame. The parties get the...