You have forwarded your mediation summary to the mediator. You have prepared your client for mediation. Everyone is at the mediation and the mediator has gone over the rules governing mediation. What’s next? Opening statements. Too often, litigators use opening statements to convince the other side that they have no case. They highlight the strengths of their client’s case and the weaknesses of the adversary’s. All of that is good. But remember, it’s not always what you say but how you say it. Taking an aggressive, antagonistic approach may set things back making settlement difficult, if not impossible. If settlement is in the best interest of the client, consider giving a strong opening statement with a hint of empathy for the other side.
Rod B. Neuman is a Florida Supreme Court Certified Circuit Court Mediator Certified Mediator (also admitted in the United States District Court, Middle District of Florida) and offers these observations based upon his experiences mediating cases throughout the State of Florida.