Mediation Mistakes: Overly Aggressive Counsel
The purpose of mediation is to get the case settled, stop the bleeding (i.e. attorney’s fees and costs) and allow clients who are not regulars in the courtroom to take their lives back. The General Session usually begins with the attorneys giving their opening statements. In the opening statement, counsel will present his or her client’s case in a light most favorable to his or her client. I always instruct the parties to be ready for this and not to get overly upset or concerned because their attorney will do the same thing. An attorney in his or her opening statement will, on occasion, be overly aggressive. I had one case where the attorney stood up, walked around the room and threatened to sue everyone else for fraud if they did not settle the case. Ultimately, that attorney came with me to each of the other three rooms and apologized. There is often a fine line between threatening the parties and presenting your client’s case in such a manner as to attempt to convince the other parties that they should settle. If the case is going to settle, it is never a good thing to threaten the other parties. If you are the aggressive type, my advice, quoting Master Po from the television series, Kung Fu, is to “Choose wisely, Grasshopper”.
Rod B. Neuman, Esquire is a Florida Supreme Court Certified Circuit Court Mediator Certified Mediator and bases these observations upon his experience mediating cases throughout the State of Florida.