During past eight months, due to the coronavirus pandemic, mediators, lawyers and clients have experienced something once inconceivable: Almost all mediations have been conducted remotely. What have we learned from this experience so far, and how can we improve it? What have we gained? First and foremost, during this pandemic, JAMS neutrals have settled thousands of cases on-line. Mediators, myself included, who were skeptical about our ability to connect with parties on a screen have been proved wrong. Using speaker view on a videoconferencing platform can bring us even closer to parties than when they are seated across a conference room table. Some individual participantsRead More →

Seven months after the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, many mediations have been conducted online. While some mediators have been mediating online since before the pandemic, many mediators have only begun their online practice in the past few months. Now that online mediation has become normalized, how have mediators handled the shift? How does in-person mediation differ from online mediation, and what have mediators done to capitalize on those differences to excel in virtual mediations? What is the future of online dispute resolution (ODR) and virtual mediation? This series of articles seeks to answer those questions and more through the results of a series ofRead More →

One of the most important things a mediator must do- if not the most important- is to build trust and rapport with the parties. In pre-Covid days, this was a bit easier; the mediator could sit face to face with each party and schmooze. Now, we are reduced to being a square highlighted in yellow/green on a computer screen. So, how do we build trust and rapport remotely? A recent blog post on Harvard’s PONS (April 5, 2021) by Katie Shonk entitled “Methods of Dispute Resolution: Building Trust in Online Mediation” discusses a chapter in a forthcoming book by Creighton University Professor Noam Ebner onRead More →

Steve Jobs famously wore the same black turtleneck, blue jeans and New Balance sneakers every day. Do you know why (bonus points if you can name the designer of his turtleneck without Googling it. Hint: it wasn’t off the rack from Gap. Answer below)? It was to minimize his number of daily decisions, especially early in the day. Choices are wonderful, right? We demand choices because we want a wide variety of them – or so we think. Many successful individuals like Steve Jobs, Mark Zuckerberg, and Albert Einstein understood that less time spent on making minor decisions meant more brainpower and time for everythingRead More →

This paper is based on a keynote speech delivered to the Nebraska Mediation Association on August 6, 2020. Nearly 18 months ago, as the pandemic brought improbable yet real terror, mediation practice faced a transitional moment. Like other professional practices—ours was gripped by uncertainty, confusion, and even panic. In the space of a few days, and in order to continue our practices, we were driven to recast our work, reshape our approach, learn new technology, educate our clients, and reconsider our techniques and strategies. Those who did not have a Zoom account quickly subscribed. Conventional face-to face sessions were transformed in an instant to onlineRead More →

In his recent book, Online Courts and The Future of Justice, author Richard Susskind posits, “…litigants do not really want courts, judges, lawyers, rules of procedure, and the rest. More likely, they want not to have a problem at all. Or to have their disputes resolved fairly and with finality. Or they might want vindication. Or someone to listen to and empathize with their grievances. Or an apology. Many lawyers and professionals baulk [sic] at this line of outcome-thinking. They insist that what a client surely needs, and will always need, is a trusted adviser—an empathetic and expert human counsellor. But this is to confuseRead More →

Published November 2020 in the Michigan bar Journal. On January 1, 2020, “zoom” was a verb, a noise a car makes. Three months later, Zoom be came a noun. It happened in the blink of an eye, like when Amazon no longer referred to a river in the rainforest, and Apple was no longer a fruit. Just as suddenly, Corona isn’t a beer served with lime. No one can honestly say the legal profession was prepared for a pandemic. While some companies had a long history of team meetings via WebEx and GoToMeeting, lawyers and the judiciary were far away from regularly using these tools.Read More →

Prior to the pandemic, virtual hearings for labor-management arbitration and mediation were rarely used. Since the start of the pandemic and with its acceleration, virtual platforms are now the dominant forums for arbitrations and mediations. Will the adoption of virtual interactions continue after the pandemic or will in-person approaches return? The answer is we just don’t know. However, there are signs that virtual hearings will be used in some circumstances, such as in simple, low value/impact cases. In addition, certain aspects of the process are likely to continue, such as advance planning sessions and the acceptance of a virtual option where participants are otherwise unavailable.Read More →

1. Take the time to learn the technology. A Great resource: “Engaging Virtual Meetings” by John Chen: We can no longer get away with being virtual beginners. Play around with your platform settings of all kinds and get comfortable enough to be able to calmly explain to colleagues, clients, students, trainees, etc., how to do things such as: Turn video on and off, enhance appearance, use a virtual background. Turn sound on and off or adjust mic volume. Change mic and/or speaker source. Use the chat feature, including attaching files. Use interactive features such as clapping, raising a hand, etc. Set up & use breakoutRead More →

Envision you are about to travel on a journey from a place of conflict to a place called resolution. As with any journey, there should be steps taken to ensure you will be as prepared as possible. First, you must check out the vehicle you are going to use on your journey, to ensure it is in optimal operating condition. On the road to resolution, that vehicle is you! Therefore, it is necessary to do some introspection to see if there are any obstacles or personal matters that might impair your perceptions or judgment regarding a conflict(s). These are things that could impede your abilityRead More →