With the world transitioning to remote communication platforms in learning, business and social settings, the possibilities for customizing the virtual mediation experience are only beginning to reveal themselves. Like everything else in a rapidly changing world, the predictability of a standard mediation is no longer there in a virtual mediation setting, as the technical requirements for successful sessions require greater advance planning and individualized experience. Some of these challenges include:
- the choice of virtual platform for videoconferencing
- whether participants will be present in person, video or audio
- the virtual platform tools used, such as screen shares, chat or breakout rooms
- choice of e-signature software
- ground rules for session length, including breaks
Customizing each mediation
In the initial joint conference between mediator and lead counsel, the above considerations can be discussed and customized depending on the needs or circumstances of each participant. This can take place along with more substantive issues such as the pre-session exchange of information or discovery, the timing of a joint session and if the mediation will take place on one single day or in a series of shorter sessions.
The virtual format can allow more participation of higher-level decision makers in corporate parties if travel is no longer a factor. And for individual litigants, the inclusion of family members or support persons who would not normally be included can help in the negotiation process.
Before the first session, short video conference calls to cover the technical issues of the remote platform can essentially act as a first caucus that will also:
- establish communication and trust between the mediator and clients,
- reveal perspectives of the participants,
- process initial reactions to anything revealed in the information exchange and briefing,
- offer opportunities to customize how the mediation session will be organized.
Because mediation is so much about connection, the challenges of creating that atmosphere in a remote setting has opened up new avenues in formatting that give clients a more customized, and in some ways more personal, experience.
It can make a great deal of difference for clients in the Detroit area to have experienced mediation services if they are seeking non-litigated resolutions to a range of commercial, business, contract, non-compete or non-disclosure disputes.