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1. Careful Preparation Prior to the Session

I have found that thorough and thoughtful preparation prior to a mediation session is crucial to the parties' ability to resolve a case at the mediation. My goal in this preparation stage is to ensure that each attorney has received the crucial information needed to evaluate both sides of the case and determine the likely recovery after a trial. If counsel has this information, he or she will be able to advise their client whether a proposed settlement will be in the client's best interests.

Unlike other experienced mediators, who may conduct 4 or 5 mediations each week, I currently limit myself to 1 mediation each week. This schedule permits me to work very closely with counsel in the 2 to 3 weeks prior to the session to prepare for a successful mediation. The steps in this preparation process include:

A. Initial Pre-Mediation Call:

Two to three weeks before the mediation session, I arrange a joint pre-mediation call with counsel for all parties to obtain an overview of the critical issues involved in the case and to learn about any settlement discussions that have occurred, as well as the issues impeding settlement. In addition, we  then work together to identify crucial documents, e-mails and other information that should be exchanged in order to maximize the likelihood of settlement.  I urge counsel to cooperate in doing this so that all counsel are in a better position to evaluate any settlement.

B. Document Exchange:

As a result of the initial call, the attorneys are able to obtain and have time to review all of the key documents and other evidence which would significantly impact the outcome of the case, if it went to trial. The attorneys can then prepare their mediation statement using the critical information.

C. Reviewing and Providing Feed-Back to each Party on Its Mediation     Statement

I then review each mediation statement, including supporting documents, and arrange additional individual pre-mediation calls to provide feed-back to each lawyer. My goal is to help each lawyer determine and further develop their strongest arguments in the mediation statement, in light of the available evidence. I explore with each attorney whether there are additional legal documents, decisions or statutes which could bolster their clients' claims. In addition, I sometimes point out the most persuasive arguments in the opposing brief which may warrant a thoughtful and compelling response.

These pre-mediation steps help the attorneys take a fresh look at their cases so they can then talk with their clients and refine their presentations. This process of preparing for the session establishes a productive rapport between each lawyer and myself even before the session begins, creating momentum on both sides towards a reasonable settlement.


"Your services as our mediator were superb. I'm convinced we wouldn't have settled this case without your artful participation; you crafted the mediation with exceptional attention to detail and thorough preparation of counsel prior to the mediation session and then infused the mediation itself with the proper mix of merits and economics."


Dennis D. Brown

Law Offices of

Dennis D. Brown

San Jose, California