…  Zoom Mediations that is!

We have conducted over 40 mediations by Zoom since Mid-March, many involving over 20 participants. Although managing large groups is challenging, we are successfully settling both large and small cases. Lawyers are gaining experience in electronic mediations and using them to mediate a growing number of cases.

The good news is that all participants to Zoom type mediations seem more cooperative and are working harder to resolve differences. Another thing that has pleasantly surprised us (the mediators) is our ability to “read” body language as well as we were able to when meeting face to face. I believe that this is true of the participants as well.

The key to a successful meeting is to make sure all participants are on “video” and not connected by phone! In addition, the position of the participant is important–not too close to their screen and not too far away–but just right! Lighting is also critical. Too often participants have a window behind them and their facial features are not visible. Do not hesitate to ask parties to readjust their position and lighting. Furthermore, the ability to hear people not wearing a mike, is directly impacted by their distance from their screen!

There is a growing tendency as we open up the ability for people to gather for some of the participants to meet in their attorney’s office. This poses two challenges: 1) If they are wearing masks it is nearly impossible to see non verbal responses; and 2) With people social distancing, it is difficult or impossible to see everyone. We suggest that each participant in a lawyer’s office be on their own screen with sound muted until they speak. Doing so avoids electronic feedback and creates social distance so that a mask is not necessary.

If you have particular questions about using Zoom or Teams, please contact us.

Be safe, Be wise, Be Kind!

Pat and Devon