Comments: Neutrals Reveal Tips With Their Opening Statements

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Lee Jay Berman, Los Angeles CA     01/13/11
Context is everything in describing mediation. My context is commercial cases with represented parties, and of course, the context of the article is the mediator's introduction in a joint session. In commercial cases, often with highly sophisticated and experienced professionals at the table (attorneys, adjusters, experts), a one-time user of the system (often the plaintiff) can do more harm than good to their cause by appearing less sophisticated. Additionally, and unfortunately, we have some attorneys who can exercise what some might consider extraordinary control over their clients. While all of this can be sorted out in caucus and perhaps later joint sessions, and I am a fan of encouraging the plaintiff to speak in front of the adjuster and defense attorney, the first joint session, when they are uptight and at that point often uncoached, is generally not the best time for that to happen. This is why many of us in California have gone to a model of caucus(es) first, before any joint session, so that we may exercise our own need for control (elbow nudge) and work with everyone for a bit before bringing them together cold. This generally makes for much more successful opening joint sessions.

Beth , Knoxville TN     01/13/11
Are you kidding me?
Exactly where is the self-determination in a mediation where the client is to be seen not heard? Or if they talk too much the attorney "must step in" Is this what happens in California? Appalling

Jim  Lingl, Agoura Hills CA     04/22/09
In addition to all of the great reasons Lee Jay has mentioned, it should also be noted that - at least for court-annexed mediations in California - most of the standard introductory comments are REQUIRED by the California Rules of Court..... details.....