When I first learned in March that we would mediate a case virtually I was concerned whether mediation could be successful without the in-person connection between the mediator and the parties. How wrong I was, mediations are successful even by video conference!
The mediations I have done via video conference were successful and they have given me hope for continued success in the future. One of the first learnings my clients and I garnered was the fact that the mediations last the same amount of time as the traditional ones. The benefit is that if it lasts late into the night, all parties, for the most part, are already home. Very convenient!
- There were more benefits to the virtual mediation process which I have asked the mediator to begin utilizing once in-person mediations resume. For example, when dealing with an important document, the mediator places it directly on the screen where both my client and I could concentrate on the specific, important terms. When dealing with property division, the mediator places the spread sheet on the screen and we all carefully watched as the mediator moved assets and liabilities as the client and I directed to make the offers and counter offers my client approved.
- Similarly, in another mediation the actual words of the evolving agreement were on the screen for the client, the mediator and I to see simultaneously as we directed the mediator to edit portions for the client’s offers and counter offers. Having the ability to view the document on the screen makes it clear and easy for the client to know the precise terms of the agreement as it evolves throughout the day. In contrast with a live mediation, we normally just have the terms read to us as the agreement develops throughout the day.
- The physical distance of the parties is another benefit of virtual mediation. If a party usually feels abused, bullied, or intimidated by the other party, simply knowing that the other part is not in the same building can be helpful to the spouse who feels they have been victimized.
- Additionally, document signing software has now been approved by statute. This allows all parties to quickly sign a mediated settlement agreement.
- Another benefit of virtual mediation is the ability to secure some of the best mediators in the state because there is no need to travel. The ‘no travel’ factor is highly convenient for the client, attorneys and mediators.
We can have successful and productive virtual mediations with a few added benefits!