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In this Monday Night Live interview, Derek Arden interviews Jane Gunn, a mediator, discussing various aspects of mediation and its evolution in the age of COVID-19. Jane’s impressive qualifications include FCI, FRSA, FPSA, CMC, IMI, and recognition in the Who’s Who Hall of Fame.

Online Mediation:

Jane and Derek delve into the world of mediation, highlighting its close connection to negotiation. Jane’s insights reveal that mediation has seen significant changes since the onset of the pandemic, particularly in its transition to online platforms like Zoom. While online mediation lacks the nuances of body language and carries the risk of participants easily leaving the virtual meeting, it offers unique advantages such as convenience and flexibility in scheduling.

One notable shift Jane mentions is that parties who were initially reluctant to meet face-to-face have increasingly embraced online mediation. This adaptation often eliminates the need for lengthy travel and accommodation expenses, making it more accessible for parties who prefer not to meet in person.

“Pre-mediation” Deals:

Another change in mediation dynamics discussed is the potential for “pre-mediation” deals or requests for offers and documents before formally entering the mediation process. Jane clarifies that mediation relies on a confidentiality agreement, ensuring that discussions and offers made during the mediation process won’t impact participants’ legal cases later on. Attempting to negotiate or exchange documents beforehand often disrupts the essential confidentiality that mediation relies on.

Derek’s questions also touch on the preparation involved before a mediation session. Jane emphasizes the importance of thoroughly reviewing legal documents, position statements, and other pertinent materials, which can take several hours. She discusses the shift to reading documents on screens and highlights the challenges of not being able to mark up physical copies.

Presence Of Legal Teams:

The conversation explores the presence of legal teams, including solicitors and barristers, in mediation sessions, which can significantly increase costs. Jane explains the difficulty of private discussions with parties due to the need for consent and confidentiality.

Jane also shares her approach to setting ground rules during mediation, emphasizing values such as listening, learning, love, and laughter. These principles aim to create a psychologically safe space for participants, allowing for effective communication and problem-solving.

The interview touches on the unpredictability of legal outcomes and how mediation focuses on helping parties make informed decisions based on their individual circumstances and the potential consequences of protracted litigation.

For Future Monday Night Live Interviews

Towards the end, the discussion briefly touches on the impact of social media on mediation. Jane underscores the importance of respectful disagreement and open dialogue in an increasingly polarized world.

Derek Arden