I attended an excellent Professional Conference this month in London, The International Academy of Mediators, "What Can we Learn from Each Other". During the conference, a full day's mock mediation was staged. It was the first I'd ever seen where professional actors were employed to demonstrate the raw emotionality that so often surfaces in civil mediation. So this week, I gave it a try. I facilitated two joint sessions in cases in which I would normally have kept the parties separate. In the first, the lawyer blew up and shouted in ways that were unexpected to me, her client and opposing counsel. Just as I had observed Avi Schneerson at the IAM do, I sat quietly and allowed that anger to boil over into the joint session. Within a very few minutes, there were huge concessions following that outburst and the case was settled within 30 minutes thereafter. In the other case, I spent over two hours preparing for the hearing by discussing the relative positions of the parties through their counsel. This one turned out to be more procedural than fact-based, but the lawyers weren't communicating with one another, rather they were busy advocating for their clients. So I took the chance to conduct that one with all lawyers together in a joint session for almost all of the negotiation. Lo and behold, they were much more civil to one another when sitting together in a room without their clients then I would have anticipated and the case was also settled in 4 hours. Thanks to my fellow IAM members, and a couple of paid actors, the theater of my mediation hearings proved to be a great laboratory for new lessons learned, including bravely allowing conflict and emotionality to be demonstrated publicly in order to truly allow the parties to get to a resolution.
Attorney Jan Frankel Schau is a highly skilled neutral, engaged in full-time dispute resolution. Following a successful career spanning two decades in litigation, she has mediated over 700 cases for satisfied clients. Ms. Schau understands the nuances of trial and settlement practice as well as client relations and balancing the needs of their representatives with the risk and expenses of trial. Those who have used Ms. Schau’s services recognize excellence in her persistence, optimism, creativity and integrity.
Ms. Schau was the President of the Southern California Mediation Association in 2007 and is recognized as among the most outstanding mediators in Southern California in the mediation of civil disputes by her peers and clients. She also serves as a Trustee of the Board of Directors of the San Fernando Valley Bar Association, and has presided as Chair of it’s Alternative Dispute Resolution Section and Litigation Section. She holds a Certificate of Advanced Skills in Negotiation from the Straus Institute for Dispute Resolution of Pepperdine University as well as from the Western Law Center for Disability Rights at Loyola Law School.