Suzanne McSorley recently posted an interesting article in Under Construction concerning strategies for success at mediation.
We all know the Scout motto: Be prepared. Life is not merely showing up. It’s being ready when you do show up. So, prepare for your mediation; don’t just show up!
In nearly 20 years of serving as mediation neutral, I have observed too many litigants who have intentionally or inadvertently adopted this attitude toward mediation: they know that the mediation session will provide an opportunity to settle their case, and they show up, full of hope tempered with a little pessimism. But they just show up! While I doubt any readers of Under Construction are guilty of this offense, I continue to be amazed at how infrequently parties – even parties with substantial claims – really prepare for mediation. At best, lack of preparation prolongs the mediation process and increases its cost. At worst, failure to prepare wastes a great opportunity to bring a dispute to an earlier and less expensive resolution.
Preparation is as critical to success in mediation as it is to success at trial or in arbitration. But, to a great extent, the kind of preparation needed for mediation is quite different from the kind of preparation needed for trial.