In negotiating and in personal interaction, there is tremendous advantage when communication is in-person. Communication is much more effective when those communicating can see one another versus communicating through a chat room or in a phone conference. A lot can be said for being able to read someone’s body language and see a reaction during the course of a conversation and just being able to look at someone when you are speaking to them.
For years, when mediations were set, and parties lived outside of the area where the mediation would be held, travel arrangements would often times have to be made. Before making travel arrangements though, one of the first questions of a party may be, “is it worth it?” If making travel arrangements are not worth it, then a party to the mediation would attend by phone. And, so the problem goes, with the party having less interaction with their attorney and less interaction with the mediator. I believe this decreases the likelihood of a resolution at mediation because there is less interaction among those involved. Communication is key.
Enter, virtual mediation.
Being able to attend a virtual mediation has countless advantages. Just some of the advantages are the personal interaction; no travel; the parties and attorneys can attend the mediation from any location where they have a computer, smartphone, tablet, or laptop; and, during the current state of affairs, everyone can continue to social distance.
When attending one of my virtual mediations, the attorney and client or client’s representative will be placed in their own private virtual room in order to continue to communicate with confidentiality. Settlement documents are paperless. All settlement paperwork is signed through email (click and sign) and each side is immediately provided a downloadable copy of the settlement paperwork once all parties have signed. The process is seamless.
A colleague once told me, “regardless of where you are, the world keeps turning.” Business must continue to be conducted. The show must go on. I recognize there is a strong preference to in-person mediation. The advantages are obvious. If attending in-person is not a realistic option, then attending virtually is the solution.
Tommy Santel is a co-founding partner of Parkerson Santel PLLC. Tommy is a former government prosecutor. He is a Tennessee Supreme Court Rule 31 General Civil Mediator. Tommy’s practice areas include criminal defense and civil litigation.
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