The pre-mediation statement rarely is a script for conduct for an effective mediation. And why is that? It gives the mediator all sorts of insight into the parties, their representatives, their level of sophistication (arrogance), their expectations from mediation, their attitude toward the other side and their investment, among other things, in the level and length of the conflict in which they have already been engaged. Often an effective pre-mediation process provides the mediator with a pretty good idea of areas of exploration (exploitation?) in mediation, but it is very important that the mediator stop himself or herself from leaping to conclusions or judgments.
Mediators are not judgmental. Lawyers are universally judgmental and… (discuss.)
The pre-mediation statement, if it focuses on the basics, provides a great tool for the willing advocate who needs help with their guidance of different clients. It is for:
- The client who needs what mediation provides but cannot admit it.
- The difficult or institutional client not culturally or structurally set up for cost-effective dispute resolution (dysfunctional corporate entities, most government entities, family dispute driven entities, for example.)
- The preparation of a pre-mediation statement provides the first (and perhaps last) real opportunity to focus the client, and the advocate, on the pluses and minuses of their case and…this is vital…with control over the outcome.
- Pre-Mediation provides the mediator his or her best opportunity to help the parties frame their dispute resolution process…and missing this chance to educate the value of the process cannot be risked.