Managing Expectations in Mediation
As part of my mediation “pre-game speech,” I always advise parties that, if the case is going to settle, the Plaintiff will inevitably accept less money than they thought coming in and the Defendant will pay more. Parties often tell me “that is my bottom/top line.” I often have to tell parties; “I hear you, but that’s not going to get this case settled.” Many times, the parties do not like my response. Remember, however, I premise my remarks with “if” the case is going to settle.
I go on to explain why paying more or taking less makes sense. Among other things, it stops the bleeding (time, cost and anguish), avoids the uncertainty of trial, and allows the litigants to sleep at night (in other words, to get on with their lives).
Of course, it helps if the attorneys do their part in managing client expectations with a dose of reality, which I think most do, although I often hear the phrase “you’ve really got your work cut out for you on this one.” To which I reply, “That’s why I’m here.”
Rod B Neuman, Esq. is a Florida Supreme Court Certified Circuit Court Mediator and bases these articles on his experiences in mediating cases.