Alternative Dispute Resolution

Approaching Mediation From Another Vantage Point

, The Legal Intelligencer

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Very few neutrals, arbitrators or mediators, however astute, can truly appreciate what a party is feeling in the midst of mediation or court mandated settlement conference. Similarly, even the most committed and well-meaning counsel may not be able to provide the level of emotional support or guidance a client needs in this setting as they have never walked in the client's shoes. Until you have been a party to a dispute yourself, not merely an advocate or a neutral, you may imagine, but have not experienced, the feelings of fear, anger, disappointment, frustration and confusion that parties bring to the alternate dispute resolution process. Having experienced all of the roles at play— arbitrator, mediator, defense counsel, plaintiff's counsel and finally and most critically, as a party myself, one can understand and appreciate more directly the stress parties face in this process. If you have been a party, you are more acutely aware of how trying the experience can be and thus understand the value of considering that perspective. Bearing this in mind, neutrals and counsel can take some straightforward steps to make the experience more tolerable for all parties, increasing the chances of reaching a successful and time-efficient resolution.

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