January 04, 2022
The Benefits of Remote Mediation Services
Prior to 2021, I had resisted offering remote mediation services. Occasionally, potential clients would contact me and ask me if I’d mediate their family law matter over Skype or FaceTime. I would always respond that my office did not offer those services because I fervently believed that the in-person conversational model of traditional facilitative mediation was a higher quality experience for clients. Then, often, I would work with them to identify a few facilitative family law mediators in their geographical area.
However, by January 2021, after having had all my clients chose to put their mediation processes on hold during 2020, it was time to get acquainted with remote mediation services. My clients needed a way to move forward and complete their mediations, while staying comfortable with how that might be accomplished. Fortunately, the Alameda County Bar Association offered online courses on mediating remotely so getting up to speed was easy.
Now, after twelve months of having all my mediation sessions and client meetings held remotely, I’m in a position to say that not only are remote mediation sessions effective, but I also I find that it takes clients less time to get to understanding and resolution than it did during in-person mediation sessions. It’s almost as though people sitting in a comfortable space (their home or office) allows them the ability to relax and remain engaged even when asked to acknowledge views they might not agree with or to compromise. I used to meet with clients about once every three to four weeks for three hours (averaging four to six hours a month) and now I remotely “meet” with clients usually every other week for one to two hours (averaging two to four hours a month). Yet, so far we get the same amount of work accomplished, when looked at on a month by month basis. In addition, the mediation processes are finishing within the same time frame of about eight to twelve months. What does that translate into? Less expensive, less time-consuming mediation processes overall.
At this point, I’ve become an ardent fan of remote mediation services, and at the time of this writing all my clients—mediation and consulting attorney clients—have chosen to work remotely with my office.
To share with you, below is a slide from one of the online mediation classes I took, taught by Hon. Marshall Whitely (Ret.), listing the benefits to clients of remote mediation services.
On the one hand, I have to admit that I was essentially forced to learn remote mediation skills and offer that option to my clients. On the other hand, I can now say that I’m glad that life gave me the opportunity to not only learn a new skill, but also to realize that remote mediation has many benefits which my clients not only embrace, but appreciate.
Please contact my office for a free 15-minute phone consultation about my office’s family law mediation, Collaborative Practice, and consulting attorney services. I look forward to speaking with you.