I open the vast majority of my mediations with a five-minute slideshow on mediation. I cover the ground rules on the process, and mandatory items such as confidentiality and how the mediator role differs from the role of a judge, juror or arbitrator. Lawyers and claims reps who frequently attend mediation often ask me to speed it up. On occasion, I give in and rush through it. Every time I do, I regret it because it is critical to make sure that all participants, whether it is their first mediation or their hundredth this year, buys into the mission.
“Our mission is to get to the printer,” I proclaim as I flash my favorite slide on the Apple TV:
The remainder of the slides merely elaborate on the mission, and how we will go about achieving it. Everything flows from that key distinction between court and mediation. In court, counsel, and the parties, advocate for the judge and/or jury to give the parties their desired result. At mediation, though, the parties negotiate an agreement. As in court, everyone is asking for something, but unlike court, they are asking the party on the other side of the table.
Counsel and parties who do well at mediation maintain the same laser-like focus on the printer that I do as mediator.
– Rob Daisley