Tips for Productive Virtual Mediations

John C. Trimble

Social distancing has created obstacles for legal counsel for many litigation tasks, especially mediation. Some mediations are being delayed or canceled. However, for many cases, parties and counsel should seriously consider online virtual mediation. Virtual mediation, although not yet commonplace, can resolve many types of cases. It is not always appropriate, but it has significant benefits, including convenience, reduced travel, lower overhead/costs, a familiar environment, and accessibility for parties with a disability, serious injury or safety concerns. But virtual mediation does have one distinctive disadvantage: the mediator cannot control the parties’ physical environment, which could lead to issues with privacy and confidentiality during the mediation.

Due to the recent surge in virtual mediations in the era of COVID-19, it makes sense to keep in mind tips for mediators and attorneys to help promote productive virtual mediations. Although there are several virtual mediation platforms such as Skype, GoToMeeting, Highfive and Zoom, all references in this article to virtual mediation, features or control settings are based on the Zoom platform.

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