Wednesday, July 15, 2009

The Mediation Process at BDRS: Sessions

Each mediation is tailored to the needs of the parties and the nature of the dispute. Typically, however, there will be a series of joint or private sessions. The goal of these sessions is to enable the parties to explore and understand
their interests, develop options, and determine whether all parties can reach agreement.

I first meet with all parties in a joint session for an introduction and review of the process, after which each party has an opportunity to present its side of the dispute.

After that initial joint session, I usually meet privately with each party, or with groups of parties, followed by subsequent joint or private meetings, as warranted. There are no arbitrary sequences or time limits.

Joint sessions can be a critical aspect of the mediation, particularly in instances where the parties have not ever met, or have not met since the time of the events giving rise to the dispute. The importance of giving parties an opportunity to have their say in front of their adversaries, and to hear directly any response the other parties might wish to make—all protected by the confidentiality of the mediation—should not be undervalued, even in cases where the dispute seems to be “just” about money.

Private sessions give the parties an opportunity frankly to assess the strengths and weaknesses of their case, discuss confidential information, to vent positions or emotions they do not wish to share with the other parties, and to consider the consequences and alternatives to a mediated settlement.

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