Dear Nigel: Thank you for a humorous and helpful interlude about pre-mediation obstacles. I recently mediated a case which involved extensive phone calls, emails, and motions to the judge before the mediation session. As you might imagine, the case did not settle. I have thought about if for two days. Upon reflection, I believe I could have insisted that the parties share the room for longer than the opening statements and that might have made the difference. However, one side was unrepresented and did not want to be at the table with the other side's attorney. Also, the unrepresented side had requested that his personal advocate attend (not an attorney) but the other side had vigorously objected. Difficult at best to get agreement.