Online Video Mediation
What is online video mediation?
Online video mediation is very similar to traditional in person mediation. The main difference is that we are all connected by video conference. As the mediator, I will control what the parties and their lawyers see on their computer screen. Just like a traditional face-to-face mediation, we can conduct joint sessions with all parties and all counsel in the same video conference room, and we will conduct separate caucus sessions where each party and their attorney can meet privately or with me by video conference in “online breakout rooms” where only designated individuals can participate. Each party and their respective counsel will have their own video breakout/caucus room. Just like a traditional face-to-face mediation, when a party wants to meet privately with their counsel, I can exclude myself from the caucus room. I also set up separate online caucus rooms so that I can meet privately with counsel if I think that is appropriate.
As the mediator, I provide a Zoom connection which allows each party and each counsel to connect to the mediation session. You do not pay a separate fee for that technology connection. You must, however, have a laptop or desktop computer with a camera and your own secure high-speed Internet connection with good signal strength and you must have a private location from which to participate. Just like traditional in person mediations, online video mediations are intended to be confidential. Consequently, you cannot participate from a public place such as a coffee shop or hotel lobby or other location where others can hear what is said. More information on this is provided in my online video mediation agreement.
Are there advantages to online mediation?
Of course, during the COVID – 19 shut down, the main advantage is that mediations can proceed immediately and not be delayed by “stay-at-home” or “shelter in place” orders.
Many parties are finding that they prefer online video mediation because it can save substantial time and expense that would otherwise be associated with parties and their counsel traveling to and from the mediation session. This is particularly true where client representatives and their counsel live in multiple cities. With the online video platform, party representatives and their counsel can choose to remain in separate cities and still meet in the same virtual caucus room. Conducting the mediation online in some cases will have the advantage of allowing individuals to participate when they might not participate if required to dedicate the time to travel to another location.
Are there disadvantages to online mediation?
Some parties and attorneys feel that cases are more likely to settle if all the parties and their counsel have demonstrated the commitment to travel to a single mediation location for the day. Some counsel and parties fear that it is too easy for a party to “walk away” when the mediation is being conducted online. I understand this concern but believe that, if the parties are truly committed to trying to resolve the dispute, online video mediation can be very successful. But for those who prefer traditional in person mediation, I am available to travel to the city of the parties agreed choice,