NUMBER ONE: Exchange with your opponent salient information about the case well in advance of the mediation. If you represent the plaintiff you may want to ask defense counsel what additional information, if any, is necessary for the defense to be fully prepared for the mediation. If you represent the defendant you will want to be sure the plaintiff’s counsel is fully informed about your view on the liability and damages issues. Last minute exchanges of information frustrate the mediation process because there has been insufficient time to analyze the information and review it with experts, management, and other people of influence.

NUMBER TWO: Set a target settlement range prior to mediation. Your settlement range should be analyzed by considering your alternative to a negotiated agreement (BATNA). Your BATNA “is the standard against which any proposed agreement should be measured. This is the only standard which can protect you both from accepting terms that are too unfavorable and from rejecting terms it would be in your best interest to accept. (Robert Fisher & William Ury, Getting to Yes: Negotiating Agreements Without Giving In ( Penguin Books 1991).

NUMBER THREE: Analyze in advance your risk versus concession points. You should consider at what point the risks of trial outweigh the concessions you must give to reach a resolution of the dispute. This is your ROCR point (Risks Outweigh Concessions for Resolution), and its confluence leads to settlements.

NUMBER FOUR: Prepare an effective mediation brief. Your brief should focus on the key facts of the case pertaining to liability and damages. While briefs are very helpful to mediators they serve the dual purpose of informing your opponent about the strengths of your case. Some lawyers do not exchange their briefs with opposing counsel. I think that is a mistake. A well-written brief sent to opposing counsel well in advance of the mediation allows you to inform the decision makers on the other side about your view of the world. If there is some information for the mediator’s eye’s only, you can add a confidential section to the mediator’s brief. For example, you may have some information you intend to use at trial that you don’t want the opponent to know about but could be useful information for the mediator.

NUMBER FIVE: Prepare your client for the mediation. You should have a pre-mediation meeting with your clients to discuss your settlement strategy, the risks of trial, the costs of litigation, including attorneys fees and expert fees, the implications of a statutory offer to compromise and the possibility of paying the other side’s fees and costs, evidentiary problems and motions in limine that could limit your ability to put on your case, the possibility of an appeal and the length of time and the costs associated with an appeal, collectability issues, and any other fact that would help your client make an informed decision with regard to the settlement value of the case.

NUMBER SIX: Ensure the presence of the decision makers. Nothing sinks a mediation faster than not having the captains on board and engaged in the process.

NUMBER SEVEN: Show respect for other parties. The objective in mediation is to find a solution to a problem. People who feel disrespected are generally more interested in saving face than they are in resolving the dispute. While you do not have to agree with the things that are being said by your opponent, you should show respect for the other side’s point of view.

NUMBER EIGHT: Be willing to listen. Effective listening may be the greatest skill-set you can bring to the mediation. Unless you attempt to see things from the other side’s point of view, you will not be able to see your case from the most important vantage points: the jury box and the bench. After all, the judge and the jury are duty bound to carefully listen to the other side at trial; you should be equally engaged and attuned in mediation.

NUMBER NINE: Remain flexible. Enough said.

NUMBER TEN: Don’t hold onto unreasonable expectations. You should not expect to settle the case based on the terms you might receive on your best day of trial. You should go into the mediation with a settlement range based on a realistic risk analysis that considers the strengths and weaknesses of your case and even takes into account the things you cannot control, like an unfavorable jury, the exclusion of a key piece of evidence, or a disastrous witness.

NUMBER ONE: Exchange with your opponent salient information about the case well in advance of the mediation. If you represent the plaintiff you may want to ask defense counsel what additional information, if any, is necessary for the defense to be fully prepared for the mediation. If you represent the defendant you will want to be sure the plaintiff’s counsel is fully informed about your view on the liability and damages issues. Last minute exchanges of information frustrate the mediation process because there has been insufficient time to analyze the information and review it with experts, management, and other people of influence.

NUMBER TWO: Set a target settlement range prior to mediation. Your settlement range should be analyzed by considering your alternative to a negotiated agreement (BATNA). Your BATNA “is the standard against which any proposed agreement should be measured. This is the only standard which can protect you both from accepting terms that are too unfavorable and from rejecting terms it would be in your best interest to accept. (Robert Fisher & William Ury, Getting to Yes: Negotiating Agreements Without Giving In ( Penguin Books 1991).

NUMBER THREE: Analyze in advance your risk versus concession points. You should consider at what point the risks of trial outweigh the concessions you must give to reach a resolution of the dispute. This is your ROCR point (Risks Outweigh Concessions for Resolution), and its confluence leads to settlements.

NUMBER FOUR: Prepare an effective mediation brief. Your brief should focus on the key facts of the case pertaining to liability and damages. While briefs are very helpful to mediators they serve the dual purpose of informing your opponent about the strengths of your case. Some lawyers do not exchange their briefs with opposing counsel. I think that is a mistake. A well-written brief sent to opposing counsel well in advance of the mediation allows you to inform the decision makers on the other side about your view of the world. If there is some information for the mediator’s eye’s only, you can add a confidential section to the mediator’s brief. For example, you may have some information you intend to use at trial that you don’t want the opponent to know about but could be useful information for the mediator.

NUMBER FIVE: Prepare your client for the mediation. You should have a pre-mediation meeting with your clients to discuss your settlement strategy, the risks of trial, the costs of litigation, including attorneys fees and expert fees, the implications of a statutory offer to compromise and the possibility of paying the other side’s fees and costs, evidentiary problems and motions in limine that could limit your ability to put on your case, the possibility of an appeal and the length of time and the costs associated with an appeal, collectability issues, and any other fact that would help your client make an informed decision with regard to the settlement value of the case.

NUMBER SIX: Ensure the presence of the decision makers. Nothing sinks a mediation faster than not having the captains on board and engaged in the process.

NUMBER SEVEN: Show respect for other parties. The objective in mediation is to find a solution to a problem. People who feel disrespected are generally more interested in saving face than they are in resolving the dispute. While you do not have to agree with the things that are being said by your opponent, you should show respect for the other side’s point of view.

NUMBER EIGHT: Be willing to listen. Effective listening may be the greatest skill-set you can bring to the mediation. Unless you attempt to see things from the other side’s point of view, you will not be able to see your case from the most important vantage points: the jury box and the bench. After all, the judge and the jury are duty bound to carefully listen to the other side at trial; you should be equally engaged and attuned in mediation.

NUMBER NINE: Remain flexible. Enough said.

NUMBER TEN: Don’t hold onto unreasonable expectations. You should not expect to settle the case based on the terms you might receive on your best day of trial. You should go into the mediation with a settlement range based on a realistic risk analysis that considers the strengths and weaknesses of your case and even takes into account the things you cannot control, like an unfavorable jury, the exclusion of a key piece of evidence, or a disastrous witness.

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