Sometimes what’s needed most when we are trying to work through complex and painful issues, is time: time to gather the information necessary to make decisions; time to take advice to process that information; time to work through technical legal issues; time to bring your best self to the table.
Traditionally, mediations take place on relative constrained, and lawyer driven, timelines. The steps might look something like this:
- Meet lawyers
- Prepare legal case
- Propose/book mediation
- Provide mediator with legal documents
- Meet to mediate for a single day – 9am to 5pm
It’s a process that is familiar to mediators and lawyers but can feel foreign, and fast, for many parties.
I offer an alternative: a more focussed, nuanced process drawing on the principles of interest based negotiations (ie looking at what matters most to the parties) and positive problem solving (ie looking for strengths not weaknesses).
In this process, which I call “Managed Mediations”, I act as the neutral mediator and meet, as frequently (or infrequently) as is required to:
- Identify the information each party needs to make meaningful decisions – my neutrality makes it easy for me to raise, in a non-confrontational way, issues that you need to have addressed in order to progress to an agreement. Even difficult decisions are able to be made when there is enough information available.
- Work out a plan to gather – and share – that information (including working out the realistic timeframes how the costs will be met).
- Make sure the information is obtained as was agreed – by me acting as the “gatekeeper” and keeping everyone on task, your lawyers’ time is freed up to do what they do best: advise and guide you. It also lets me explore the many reasons why things sometimes get delayed – not all of which are a cause for suspicion.
- Craft adequate time for both parties to digest that information and work out whether any more information is required and what issues remain unresolved and need to be discussed.
- Find a location and forum to mediate that works for everyone – while face to face is best (and providing my schedule allows for it I am happy to travel to you) we can mediate by telephone, Skye/Zoom or other electronic means.
- Work through the areas where agreement is still to be reached and craft out an agreement that addresses your legal and personal needs. For some people one big day of discussions works well, for others a couple of shorter sessions are better. I can help you craft a process that works for you and your circumstances.
Some of the reasons this process works is:
- I keep everyone on task and in a problem solving mindset;
- Your lawyers are able to be lawyers (and can leave the admin to me!);
- We bring in whatever experts you need to give you the information you need to make decisions about your future;
- We go at a pace you are comfortable with (and I will keep everyone progressing); and
- Most importantly, we play to the strengths – not the fears – of the most important people in the process – you, the parties.
If you are interested in finding out more about Managed Mediations, please drop me a line (firstname.lastname@example.org) or give me a call (07) 3211 4722. You can book mediations and arbitrations with me at www.annemarierice.com.au.