November 15, 2017 Practice Points

Are Opening Presentations at Mediation Valuable, and If So, Under What Circumstances?

Thoughts from two national mediators

by Jeff Kichaven and Paul Van Osselaer

Jeff Kichaven: While every case is unique, I presumptively have joint sessions. I know other mediators don’t. Sometimes I think I have more joint sessions than all the other mediators combined. Turns out lawyers like them. That’s because we go in prepared to generate progress.

We don’t have old-fashioned “plenary” joint sessions where everyone hurls firebombs. We have joint sessions with narrow, focused agendas. After I read the mediation briefs, I call the lawyers to focus on the central issues and narrow our agenda to just those issues. In the joint session, we stick to the agenda. I ask lots of questions. Well-prepared lawyers welcome them.

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