Updated: Oct 22, 2020
By: Megan Lopp Mathias, Founding Partner and Emily Salomone, Law Clerk
Lopp Mathias Law integrates innovative technology whenever possible to leverage results for our clients. In the times we find ourselves in, remote mediation is an option that allows litigants an opportunity to control the outcome and timing- timing which is difficult to define during a pandemic. Some court systems across the country took months to come up with the technology and processes to adequately respond to the pandemic. Meanwhile, cases sit idle and clients are subject to higher fees. Remote mediation can give clients some control in uncertain times.
In usual circumstances, mediators are hired to act as a neutral third party to facilitate settlement discussion between two disputing parties. They can provide an independent evaluative role to assess the issue, and help parties come to a resolution. The proceedings typically occur face-to-face with the mediator often putting each side in a different room. However, now that we all have moved to a mostly remote work environment, these mediators have also moved online. Originally, online mediation only took place for a few specific matters; now, however, the demand for online mediation has risen.
When considering whether or not to hire a remote mediator, here are a few pros and cons to consider in advance:
Benefits of Remote Mediation
The most obvious benefit deriving from an online mediation is that it can reduce delays. Mediation can be a good alternative when court cases are put on hold or are becoming cost prohibitive. Attorneys are able to schedule mediation quickly and receive quicker results over the course of the mediation.
Remote mediation provides an ease of accessibility and flexibility. The remote mediation platform makes it possible for those who are severely disabled, in poor health, traveling or reside in other states to still participate fully in their cases. It also allows for flexibility in terms of time and meeting locations. A benefit of this flexibility is that it allows the conversation to occur more organically between parties as there can be less time restraints than there may usually be when a mediation is held in a physical location.
Remote mediation can provide a less stressful environment for participants than trial and other usual forms of mediation. Typically, when resolving a conflict, one party or its counsel may be more dominating and intimidating which can derail mediation. However, the screen between parties often cuts down unnecessary or time consuming nonverbal communication and also the stress associated with overly-aggressive face-to-face disagreements. With remote mediation, parties may feel less stress than they would in an otherwise in person arbitration or mediation. This point may be particularly important in cases where emotions typically run high, such as divorce proceedings.
Drawbacks of Remote Mediation
Remote Mediation should be thoughtfully considered and all parties must be willing to make concessions. As an alternative to waiting for courts to reopen, mediation may seem like a great idea. However, all parties must be willing to mediate before anything can be done- both in terms of scheduling and willingness to participate. If parties are unwilling to concede anything or work towards a mutually beneficial outcome, then remote mediation will not be successful.
Some of the benefits usually derived from having face-to-face mediation interaction are lost in remote mediation. In-person mediation allows parties to use body language in the discussion. Body language and tone are all important components of getting ideas across and negotiating. Removing this component may cause difficulties. Additionally, the use of technology presents its own difficulties as sharing documents, avoiding tech issues, and avoiding speaking over each other. Parties must practice a level of patience with the process and opposing party.
Finally, as most things are moved online during the COVID-19 crisis, so too have most attorneys and mediators. The demand for remote mediation as an alternative has spiked, and as a result, people are finding it harder to arrange mediators. Currently this does not present a huge issue as delayed mediation is still subject to less delays than a closed court system. However, it is something to be cognizant of regarding time sensitive matters.
Ultimately, as the world deals with the COVID-19 pandemic and unprecedented challenges, clients may be waiting to have their day in court. Lopp Mathias Law helps keep it moving and assists clients in navigating alternatives, not just the remote mediation route. Engage Lopp Mathias Law to help you resolve business disputes before they become six-figure problems. We understand business and work hard to get you solutions. Our reputation for hard-hitting litigation helps resolve disputes because when we have to litigate, we mean it.
Let LML help you grow your business and resolve your legal issues.