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APRIL 2012 NEWSLETTER - Private Caucus
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Private Caucus: Women Mediators Tell All About Getting the Best Results in ADR

by Christine Page
If you are like most attorneys who have never enrolled in a mediation or negotiation strategy course, you have probably developed your mediation techniques on a trial and error basis.  By the time the next mediation rolled around, however, you may have forgotten what moves you regretted or perhaps you were too exhausted after a twelve-hour mediation to even do a post mortem.
Getting a mediator’s perspective on how to achieve the best results in mediation can be invaluable.  After all, an experienced mediator has seen hundreds of attorneys in the caucus room and has a finely-tuned ear as to what strategies worked well and which ones were counterproductive.  And the mediator is often the only person at the end of the day who actually knows whether you could have gotten a better deal than the one your client signed.

On April 10, 2012, WLALA, ADR Services, Inc., Judicate West and Janet Rubin Fields will present a program entitled “Private Caucus:  Women Mediators Tell All About Getting the Best Results in ADR."  At the program, a panel of preeminent mediators who have seen it all will provide their take on the most effective strategies used by counsel before, during, and after a mediation.  Through insightful and  sometimes humorous illustrations from their practices, they will explain why certain techniques worked well and why others should be avoided at all costs.

Mediators Janet Rubin Fields, Hon. Patricia Collins (Ret.), and Joan Kessler will of course say that there is no one-size fits all strategy and that the best attorneys possess the skill and good judgment to employ the right technique for each set of variables.  Being flexible and creative is often the biggest challenge for both lawyer and mediator.  With the help of moderators Jan Frankel Schau of ADR Service, Inc. and Christine Page of Gilchrist & Rutter, these panelists will make you rethink your conventional strategies by candidly sharing the techniques of counsel that helped them settle some of their most difficult cases.

When, for example, should you prepare a killer opening statement that strikes fear in the heart of your adversary and when should you skip the drama and go directly to private caucus?   What creative pre-hearing steps taken by counsel can materially impact the outcome?  Will the mediator work harder for you if you communicate that you are fair or that you have unreasonably high expectations?  How should you communicate your bottom line so that the mediator believes it?  What “genius moves” have been made by attorneys to help break impasse?  When is it essential to bring key witnesses or experts?  How often are mediator proposals effective and when should counsel discourage them?  If the case doesn’t settle, what are some of the best strategies for keeping the flames of hope alive?

As pointed out by Janet Rubin Fields, “the mediation process does not necessarily fail when the parties are unable to achieve settlement at the mediation.  While the ultimate goal is to resolve a case at the mediation hearing, an effective, skilled mediator will achieve a settlement after building continual confidence and trust with the parties, which requires dedicated follow up through listening, analyzing, creativity, persistence and patience." 

Behind every effective mediator is effective counsel doing their part to achieve the best possible result for their client.  Please join Ms. Rubin Fields, Judge Collins, and Ms. Kessler on April 10 for an engaging and lively discussion about how to maximize your effectiveness at one of the most critical junctures in your case:  mediation.

Ms. Page is a Partner with Gilchrist & Rutter PC.


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