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In Praise of Joint Sessions. Geoff Sharp. Mediator.

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1 In Praise of Joint Sessions. Geoff Sharp. Mediator.

2 Joint Sessions A meeting of all participants in the mediation

3 Private Sessions / Caucus A private (and usually confidential) meeting outside the larger group

4 Joint Session : Opportunity For mediators – Gain insight – Demonstrate leadership – Set tone – Be transparent For lawyers – Demonstrate skill – Access decision maker For parties – Be heard – Listen – Exist party-to-party – Gain understanding – Evaluate

5 Caucus : Respite For mediators – Reality testing – Coaching – Fixing mistakes For lawyers – Real advice – Strategize For parties – Respite from joint – Reactive devaluation – Explore

6 What’s the Problem? Lack of – Constructive confrontation – Transparency Leading to – Mediator manipulation – Unhelpful party behaviours

7 “Your mother is offering you each $50,000.00.” I just stick to the facts.

8 “Your mother is offering you each $50,000.00 but she is very sad that some of your father’s wishes will not now be carried out because of this payment and the cost to the estate while you quarrel over it. She hopes this proposal will end the arguments and improve family relations.” I include the emotional dimensions surrounding the proposal.

9 “Your mother is offering you each $50,000. I have to tell you that her boyfriend appears to be driving the negotiation in that room. What do you know about his interest in her estate?” Raising the question whether it’s a breach of confidentiality to characterise the “mood” in the other room.

10 “Your mother is offering you each $50,000. If I were you, I’d counter at $125,000 to see if we can get her up to the $100,000 each of you want to receive.” More coaching and facilitation. Is it neutral?

11 Why the Demise of Joint?

12 Like all things, the answer is in moderation Selective Caucusing

13 9.00am Pre mediation caucus on the day with each of the parties 9.30am Mediator’s opening comments in joint 9.45am High level party openings in joint - lawyer and client combo - this often turns into an early interactive session 10.30am Identification of a sensible approach to the discussion (what I call the architecture of the day) 10.45am In depth discussion in joint 1.00pm Separate for lunch but with the mediator getting a ‘heads up’ from each group privately over the break and, in a multi party mediation, encouraging any natural (or empathy) groupings to connect Open Understand and Explore

14 3.00pm Craft proposals in private but importantly deliver in joint – talking to the science and merit of each proposal, often on the whiteboard 3.30pm Repeat (once, perhaps twice) 4.00pm By now we have communicated best numbers and the mediator’s role is to assist to close the gap, often moving off the science/merits. This can efficiently begin by shuttle but can often end with a joint meeting of a strategic mix of participants (just the mediator and decision makers, just the mediator and lawyers etc) when the gap is sufficiently narrowed. Expect false impasse here before eventual agreement after small group checks back with their respective constituents 5.30pm Mediator confirms agreement back to the joint group (‘let’s make sure we are all on the same page’). Expect a few wrinkles here as other minds are applied. Congratulations but we’re not quite done yet. Create Proposals Close the Gap Confirm and Close

15 5.45pm Convene a drafting group while the others sit around chatting/not chatting depending on the day 7.00pm Close (well)

16 Mediator Techniques for (difficult) Joint Sessions Do integrate all realities Direct contact, but you be the oil Responsibility for table behaviours with them Practice extreme transparency – Caucus in joint – Coach in joint Bottom line it (summary statements)

17 Thank You… it has been fun Thank you, it’s been fun

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