Stages of Mediation
While much more informal than litigation, the process is very flexible and often proceeds as follows:
Stage 1: Pre-mediation
The mediator confirms the scheduled mediation with the parties’ counsel and requests them to provide a Mediation Statement – which calls on them to answer a series of background questions - a few days before the mediation occurs. This allows the mediator to be better prepared for the actual mediation session with the parties. Short one-on-one discussions with each counsel may also take place.
Stage 2: Mediation session
The mediator introduces the parties and makes an opening statement. This is usually to explain the goals and rules of mediation and the specific role he will play in the process. It is made clear that the mediator has no decision-making authority. Depending on the format chosen by the mediator, each party is then invited to describe his or her sense of what the dispute is about and how they have been affected by it and what role or responsibility they have – or do not have - for the present circumstance. Depending on the suggestion of the mediator, some joint discussions may then take place. Most often, the parties will then meet privately with the mediator, with the mediator alternating back and forth from one party to another in an effort to guide the parties to a mutually acceptable solution. A final joint session is often held which allows the parties to have closure by either signing off on any written settlement reached or laying the groundwork for future discussions if a resolution was not achieved.
Stage 3: Post-mediation
The parties will exchange any other written documents required to effectuate any resolution reached. Additionally, this mediator will provide a survey questionnaire to the parties and their counsel to evaluate the mediator. The survey is designed in a way that preserves the respondent’s anonymity and is premised on the universal truth that candid feedback is key to continuous improvement.