Since writing my recent short article, Courts Should Make Mediations Good Samaritans Not Frankensteins, I have been thinking about how to maximize the substantial benefits of court-connected mediation while minimizing the risks of coercion.
Most mediators, mediation program administrators, and courts are conscientious about providing appropriate, high-quality mediation services. Unfortunately, with some frequency, there have been reports of problematic behaviors by mediators, lawyers, and parties. The challenge is how to maximize the former and minimize the latter.
Coercion is problematic in any mediation regardless of whether parties have been ordered to mediate. When courts order parties to mediate, the courts have an obligation to minimize the risk of coercion.
This new short article proposes that courts require that standard explanations be provided to parties about the mediation process and their rights in mediation, and it offers model language that can be adapted to particular circumstances.
The language and process for administering the explanation should be developed through a dispute system design process designed to improve preparation for mediation. This article identifies potential obstacles to effective implementation of this strategy. With sufficient commitment, courts, lawyers, and mediators can optimize parties’ experiences of court-connected mediation and reduce their risks.
Take a look.