By September 3, 2015Mediation

In real estate circles, you hear the old adage: “The three things that are most important are Location, Location, Location!” In mediation circles, it might be more appropriate to say the three things that are most important are “Preparation, Preparation, and Preparation!”
It seems that there are attorney advocates who tend to devote minimal efforts to getting their clients ready, to getting themselves ready, and to getting the mediator ready for a mediation. However, with virtually every judge now ordering mediation as part of the litigation process before a case can be brought to trial, the process of attending a mediation assumes a much greater role in the overall process of resolving a dispute during the course of the litigation. It is easy to assume that detailed preparation is not really necessary for the mediation. After all, the mediation process is just a matter of negotiating back and forth to see if an acceptable middle ground might be found. If that is the view that is being taken, what an opportunity missed! Think about it – – in one room you have the opposing parties, their attorneys, and the agreed – upon (or appointed) mediator, without a court reporter to record the proceedings and without a judge or jury to make credibility or judgment decisions on the “evidence”.
It really is an opportunity not to be missed. Your audience is not so much the attorney for your opposition as it is the attorney’s clients sitting across the table from you. You have your one chance of the entire lawsuit process to speak with them in an informal setting, face-to-face and eye-to-eye. So, get yourself prepared. Know your lawsuit, and your strengths and weaknesses, better than the other side. Talk to those opposing clients across the table, and explain your own client’s position and damages, if that is what you are seeking. Show them why. But by all means, put in the time that it takes to prepare. And use that
Preparation to educate the mediator – well ahead of time. That means providing the mediator with background pleadings, case law, photographs, diagrams, or whatever information the mediator might need that applies to your case. Don’t stop at just the standard “Mediator Questionnaire”. If you provide additional background information, a conscientious mediator is going to do his or her own homework to review what you provide. Preparation, Preparation, Preparation! Don’t miss the opportunity.