Pre-mediation contact with the mediator and counsel can be an opportunity to discuss expectations in anticipation of the mediation. This contact may lower the risk of a surprise that could potentially impede a successful settlement effort. Hon. Richard J. Billik, Jr., (Ret.), senior mediator and arbitrator at ADR Systems, believes taking advantage of this contact may help in the preparation and mediation of a commercial case.
A commercial mediation that involves multiple parties, complex issues, contentious litigation or a dispute with emotional overtones, may benefit from pre-mediation contact. There is an opportunity to discuss the process and expectations, while also discussing submission deadlines, who will be attending and other related issues.
It also allows counsel to inquire about the mediator’s style and work out logistical issues in preparation for the mediation. Logistical issues can range from whether to allow time for any opening comments, whether there will be remote participants requiring technical support or whether other support is needed for a presentation or video.
The mediator can assist counsel in resolving potential issues in preparation for the mediation. For example, the mediator and counsel can discuss whether submissions will be exchanged or submitted for “mediator’s eyes only.” A joint call between the mediator and counsel could lower the chance of a misunderstanding that can get the process off on the wrong foot, and could cost time at the mediation.
How pre-mediation contact will unfold hinges on the case, and it can be shaped to meet the needs of the parties.
Depending on the circumstances, the mediator may find it necessary to follow up with counsel separately after a pre-mediation joint call and after the parties’ submissions have been reviewed. This contact can clarify matters involving the submissions or case history, which may be useful in the preparation for the mediation.
Complicated commercial cases may involve problems or issues that may need to be addressed prior to mediation. Scheduling a pre-mediation call in certain cases can be a helpful tool to better prepare the mediator and the parties for mediation.
Judge Billik has extensive experience in commercial-related disputes, among others. Following law school, Judge Billik worked at the US Department of Justice and was in private practice. He also served in the Cook County Circuit Court Chancery Division for about 12 years during his 20-year judicial career.
For Judge Billik’s full bio, click here.
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