During mediation, Jeff will be working with you in either a joint session or in a party’s break out conference room. Our staff is available to help and assist with any of your needs including: making copies; ordering lunch and providing snacks, coffee and drinks; and assisting with any transportation needs. Our office is staffed from 8:30 AM to 5:30 PM, and we provide the following amenities:
Convenient Uptown location
Comfortable, modern meeting rooms
Complimentary incidentals – phone calls, wireless internet, photocopies, snacks, coffee and lunch (if full day mediation)
Transportation service available (additional fee)
Mediation consists of a systematic process and approach that involves a continuing procedure including the Opening and Joint Session, Private Caucuses, and Settlement Stages.
Usually, Jeff will hold a “joint session” with all parties and their counsel. There are several purposes of this “joint session.” First, Jeff will make an opening statement/introduction, review the rules for mediation and explain the process for the day. Jeff will also take this time to establish a safe environment ensuring that the process and communications are “confidential.”
Second, Jeff will ask the attorneys to make a brief “opening statement,” simply asking the attorneys to state what their client’s thoughts are, what the history of the dispute is, what relief or resolution the attorney thinks may be appropriate and anything else the attorney wishes to add to shed light on the situation of her client that may be relevant. Typically, the party with the burden of proof (i.e., the plaintiff) will have the opportunity to go first.
Third, Jeff will ask each party (not their counsel) whether they would like the opportunity to say anything. Parties are encouraged to listen to their lawyers and decide before mediation begins whether they would like to speak.
After each side makes an opening statement, we will remain together in what is called a joint session. Jeff will summarize what he has heard from each side and will try to identify what issues each party feels strongly about and what issues and positions may impede a mutual resolution. Jeff may ask some additional questions to be sure that he has all of the information he needs. At the conclusion of the “joint session,” Jeff will ask each party to go their respective “break-out” rooms.
Jeff will meet with each party in private to review what has been said during the “Opening/Joint Session” and will begin building rapport with the parties and begin to understand each party’s interest in resolving the case.
Jeff will also ask probing questions to get a feel of how each party feels about their positions, learn about the facts of the case and the strengths and weaknesses of each party’s case, and how each party perceives what the other side may think. These questions are designed to see where common interests exist between the parties. See the section called “Mediator’s Thoughts” for a list of questions that may be explored in individual caucuses.
During the individual caucuses, each party may disclose things that the party wants/needs Jeff to know, but does not wish for Jeff to disclose to the other side. Jeff is committed to maintaining confidences and will not disclose any confidential information. If later it should become important to share the information, Jeff may do so only with the parties express permission.
It is also important to also understand that Jeff may meet longer with one side than another, and this has nothing to do with anything other than Jeff having more questions to ask at that particular time. It has nothing to do with favoring one side or another.
Ultimately, at the end of each individual caucus, Jeff will be armed with an offer or counter-offer to share with the other side in an effort to resolve the case.
Multiple individual caucuses will be held until either the case is resolved or Jeff declares an impasse.
Often times, Jeff may ask to meet with just the attorneys either in another joint session or with one party’s attorney in an effort to better understand the dynamics of the case or to get a better understanding of how the case may be resolved. Jeff has found that getting the attorneys together outside the presence of the parties, often times, allows the attorneys to work face-to-face and candidly discuss a mutually satisfactory outcome.
Jeff promises not to waste your time. Only Jeff knows whether the parties are making progress and asks that you give him the courtesy of allowing the process to work.
If, at any time during the process Jeff feels that the parties cannot resolve their case, he will declare an impasse. At that time, Jeff may ask either the lawyers or all parties and their counsel to meet for one last time and provide a summary of the day and offer advice/suggestions on what their next course of action should be. Jeff will also review the terms of his guarantee with the parties.
At that time, Jeff will excuse the parties from mediation and will report back to the court (if the case has been filed) that the parties mediated the case and that the case did not settle. See After Mediation.
If an agreement has been reached by all parties, Jeff will provide a Mediated Settlement Agreement (“MSA”) template for the parties and their counsel to negotiate. Once the terms of the Mediated Settlement Agreement are negotiated and committed to writing, the parties and their counsel will sign the MSA, at which time it becomes legally binding.
Although the MSA contemplates that additional settlement documents will be executed in connection with the settlement, the parties and counsel understand that the MSA constitutes an enforceable settlement agreement as contemplated by Section 154.071 of the Texas Civil Practices and Remedies Code.