While most mediations settle in a single session, some need more time for further discovery, to address new issues or to further consider what the other side proposed during the mediation.
That is why ADR Systems mediators follow up on their cases that do not settle: they keep the lines of communication open, encourage continued negotiation and help guide the parties toward resolution.
Hon. Larry G. Axelrood, (Ret.), senior mediator and arbitrator at ADR Systems, said that when a case does not settle in the initial session, the key is “to be persistent without being annoying.”
“Sometimes when you do a mediation, you learn what needs to happen to get it settled in the future,” he said. “During the initial session, not only do we mediate, but we set the foundation to actually get it done and provide a roadmap to settlement.”
Judge Axelrood said that setting a foundation starts with building trust between the parties and the mediator. Sometimes this happens fairly quickly – resulting in a settlement within the original four-hour or eight-hour time frame – but sometimes, such as in highly emotional cases, it takes additional time to gain this trust.
Setting a foundation may also involve the parties and mediator creating an outline of necessary tasks, such as obtaining additional discovery or consulting with stakeholders who were not present at the session. Regardless of the reason why a mediation might need more time, Judge Axelrood said his job as a mediator is to periodically check in, be tenacious and keep the parties on track, however long that may take.
“Different cases require different approaches and sometimes the time is not ripe for settlement,” Judge Axelrood said. “If one party needs more time or is ready to come back to the table, I make a habit of talking to the other parties as well, just to keep them up to date with the progress of the negotiations.”
He added, “An attorney’s time is limited and valuable, so checking in every so often gives them a little nudge. Even if they are not in a position to settle at that point, when I call them and talk to them – as well as give guidance, if warranted – my persistence keeps their case at the forefront of their minds.”
With jury trials delayed due to the COVID-19 pandemic, follow-up from ADR Systems mediators can provide the extra help needed to bring the parties to resolution. To learn more about ADR Systems mediation services, click here.
Judge Axelrood has extensive experience with medical malpractice, nursing home, railroad, legal malpractice, premises liability, construction and personal injury matters. Having served on the Evanston Police Pension Board and the Illinois Judges Association Pension and Benefits Committee, Judge Axelrood also has in-depth experience with pensions and their impact on various types of cases.
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