The foundation of my philosophy and approach to mediation is summed up in the quote of Albert Einstein, “in the middle of difficulty lies opportunity.” I firmly believe that the overarching role of the mediator is to show the parties the opportunities that mediation provides and to lead them toward resolution.
I view mediation as opportunity. In the grand scheme, mediation presents an opportunity to resolve and settle a case or dispute. However, the mediation process also provides opportunities that are unavailable in traditional litigation. Among those opportunities are the exploration and potential satisfaction of parties’ underlying interests, the avoidance of further monetary and emotional cost and the chance to develop creative solutions to an impasse. It is the job of the mediator to illuminate these and other opportunities on the road to resolution.
I believe the potential for settlement at mediation is enhanced by a mediator who is prepared, flexible and invested in the process. It is my aim to be very well prepared on the factual and legal issues involved in the case. Prior to the mediation I also endeavor to learn from counsel the “under the surface” dynamics that may either present barriers or sow the seeds of resolution.
A mediator should be flexible, both in approach and during the actual mediation. I do not ascribe to a “one size fits all” approach to the mediation process. Just as no case is like another, so it is true with mediation. I utilize an approach that is tailored to the needs of the parties and their case. Whether my approach is facilitative, evaluative or a hybrid is dictated by what I learn in preparation and what the individual parties require. Some cases require a velvet glove, others a more direct approach.
As a mediator, I consider it a privilege to be invited into the parties’ conflict. Hence, I am very invested in the process and each case. While the parties ultimately control the outcome, I believe my role is to lead them through the process. In large measure, mediation is about making informed decisions on a case. Together with counsel, I make every effort to help the parties in this regard by exploring issues and interests, assessing the merits and weaknesses and discussing possible outcomes of a case in a safe and structured environment. This leads to a more meaningful negotiation process. And a meaningful, productive negotiation process increases the potential for settlement.