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Things to Be Aware of When Mediating Online

July 16, 2020  | 

{3 minutes to read} Since New York on PAUSE went into effect, parties have been mediating virtually — either online or by phone, and this may even continue as businesses begin to reopen. I would like to share with you some of the differences that I’ve noticed in my mediation meetings via Zoom.

Technical Difficulties

We all may be subject to an unstable internet connection and noisy distractions from dogs or others in your household. Your mediator should let you know in advance if such difficulties make the mediation too difficult. In that case, you can take a break and come back when things have settled down, so you don’t have to feel anxiety over conditions that are out of your control.

Duration

I was surprised to learn that while a two-hour meeting in person was the norm for me, two hours on video is different. And if it feels more intense for me, I suspect it is much more intense for clients. So, if you feel that it is too much for you to meet for more than an hour, feel free to bring it up to your mediator. It’s better to do that than to forge onward if you feel that you are no longer able to participate fully as the time goes on.
 
It’s also fine to take a break during a video mediation just as it is during an in-person mediation. Feel free to say you need some water/coffee/bathroom break or just need to get away from the camera for a moment. The break will make the subsequent time more productive. 
 

Documents

Your mediator will ask you to pre-sign the Agreement to Mediate and scan it back before the mediation begins. A review of the Agreement will then take place before the meeting begins. Your mediator will also let you know what documents should be provided before the meeting so you can be as productive as possible during the meeting.

Caucusing

A caucus is when the mediator meets with you individually. In Zoom, the mediator can put you into separate “rooms” in order to have a caucus. If caucusing is part of the mediator’s protocol or something that you may want to request, you can be assured of privacy in that discussion.

In general, there are definitely some benefits in online mediation such as easier scheduling and no worries about commuting, traffic or parking. Of course, all that is countered by possibly having children at home during the mediation — or other lack of privacy — as well as feeling that it is difficult to make a connection with your mediator. However, if you make your mediator aware of any issues you might have, you can then discuss possible resolutions to meet your concerns.

As long as you are committed to the process, online mediation can be as beneficial as an in-person session. Online mediations may also be a practice that continues long after the pandemic requires it. 

Clare Piro Attorney and Mediator

Attorney & Mediator
500 Mamaroneck Avenue | Suite 320
Harrison, NY 10528
Tel: 914.946.0848

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