In a recent mediation the parties and their counsel worked diligently toward resolution all day. Back and forth. Back and forth. Finally, an agreement. Counsel are in my office and we are word-processing something to memorialize the settlement. Drafts are generated. Approvals obtained. Voila, the printer generates the “final” version, and one of the lawyers runs off to obtain his client’s signature. Only to return and report that his client has left. Without his counsel’s knowledge or permission, and certainly without mine.
What would you do as counsel for this client? As counsel for the opposing party who understood that we had a “deal”? What would you do as the mediator? The case is pending in federal court, and as we all know, those federal judges keep score! Let me hear from you. Your opinions are at least as valuable as mine.

I Read You Loud & Clear

Several months ago my monthly email highlighted the use of video teleconference and other technologies in mediation. My position with regard to mediations conducted without the physical presence of all parties remains skeptical, but a recent experience has nudged me a bit.
Video technology has improved and is improving rapidly. I recently conducted a mediation at a “tall building” firm so that the client rep for one party could participate from Boston through the use of the firm’s video teleconference facilities. There he was on a large HD screen on the wall at one end of a conference table. Whenever I walked in the room, there he was, just sitting and waiting. We didn’t have to repeatedly dial him in, only to find that he had disappeared, etc. After awhile it began to feel like he was actually, physically present. I’m not ready to declare this practice acceptable, but I was impressed.