As one prepares for mediation, it is too easy to focus on the procedural aspects (briefs, arguments, expert reports, exhibits) of the process and NOT enough time on mental preparation.

To succeed at mediation, the lawyer must be mentally prepared to effectively “sell” her/his point of view. That means coming into the process with an open mind and accepting that one might learn something or even be mistaken about a fact or law. It means working to develop trust with the opposing lawyer and client. Trying to be the toughest or most argumentative person in the room NEVER leads to settlement. Civility and thoughtfulness, along with an open mind, definitely increases the chance of resolving a dispute.

As strange as it sounds, civility requires practice. Our political and social climate have done nothing to encourage us to get along. Discourse must be respectful which involves open-mindedness, intellectual charity, and humility (not necessarily strong attributes of attorneys.)

During litigation, work to get to know opposing counsel and clients. In the “good old days,” lawyers and judges rode circuit together, and no matter how much they disagreed in court, they developed and maintained respect (and often friendship) for each other in their travels. It takes time to get to know other people, to learn about their background, families, and interests outside of the law. I guarantee that the effort is worth it, and it will make you ENJOY the legal profession more!!