Are 4-Hour Mediations “Just Right” For Your Case?

Are 4-Hour Mediations “Just Right” For Your Case?

In the years since I began my mediation practice, I’ve been fortunate to develop strong client relationships and have over 1,000 mediations under my belt. I have found that when a mediator effectively facilitates a negotiation, whatever the ultimate outcome, plaintiff and defence lawyers and insurance claims professionals leave feeling it’s been a positive experience.

As I prove my worth as a mediator by demonstrating skill and expertise, these return clients often trust me to mediate increasingly complicated matters. It has become clear to me that more complexity necessitates more time.

Therefore, I’m pleased to announce my decision to increase my half-day mediation session from three to four hours. In this blog post, I explain why I see the need for this change and how it will help you engage in a more productive and effective mediation. 

Why 3-Hour Half Days No Longer Work For My Clients

Straightforward cases with limited issues or matters where parties have already come to terms on most issues can often be mediated relatively quickly. If everyone is on the same page about getting down to business, a great deal can be accomplished in a relatively short amount of time.

However, I’ve often found that the time constraints in three-hour sessions can be detrimental if everything doesn’t go as planned. Quite simply, three-hour mediations are often too rushed. It can take time to get people situated in breakout rooms; openings take an additional chunk of time and this is frequently a large chunk of time; timing for delivery of settlement offers is quite variable and frequently lengthy; and, if anyone present is not familiar with mediations (usually the plaintiffs), the explanations required push  back the timing of the first offer.

Unless the parties are close to the zone of agreement with the first or second offers, the amount of time and number of offers needed to facilitate effective negotiation movement tends to run out the clock. It is not uncommon for the parties at the table to be tantalizingly close, yet unable to seal the deal in this timespan. They must then either hope the mediator has extra time and can extend discussions or schedule a second mediation to complete negotiations. 

Whatever the ultimate result, these time pressures tend to fray nerves and cause a lot of unnecessary frustration.

For Some Cases: Full Day? No Way!

Conversely, for some cases (particularly two-party mediations without major complexities), full day mediations provide too much time. Believe me, too much of a good thing can be counter-productive to your interests.

Unlike three-hour mediations where you are in a perpetual rush, if a case does not require the amount of additional time provided by a full day, there is little urgency to move. Without the benefit of at least some pressure to show movement, one or more parties may begin to think negotiations are not being taken seriously or that the gap between parties is too great to overcome.

The Happy Medium: 4-Hour Mediations  

If Goldilocks was ever looking for a mediation to sort out her issues with the bear family, she’d probably find a four-hour session would be “just right.” For a two-party mediation in which there are no exceptional complexities, or for multi-party cases that are relatively straight forward or have limited issues, four-hour half day mediations offer the appropriate amount of time to foster positive time pressure and focus minds to the matters at hand.

A four-hour timeline provides space for fulsome openings while maintaining the sense or feeling that there is no time to waste. In four-hour half day mediations, the parties can establish a pace in which you can help the opposing party understand your position without rushing. Nevertheless, everyone present will be keenly aware that the time available to settle is not endless.

Moving To 4-Hour Half-Days and New Rates

By changing the structure of my practice from 3-hour to 4-hour, I am responding to what I have learned is most beneficial to my clients. I firmly believe this change will lead to more productive and satisfying mediations.

Devoting more time to facilitating half-days means I must adjust my rates accordingly. I am acutely aware that higher mediation costs may prompt some potential clients to think twice about scheduling a mediation with me. Nevertheless, I am confident that on a dollar-for-value basis, these rates are competitive and justifiable.

Determining the right mediator for your case could be one of the most important choices you make in the life of your case. By modifying the structure of my practice to suit a perceived need of so many of my clients, I hope you will agree that selecting me will be a choice that serves you well.

Starting December 1, 2020, all of my future half-day mediation bookings will be for 4 hours. I will no longer be offering 3-hour mediations (though all half-day mediations booked before December 1, 2020 as three-hour mediations will be honoured at the old rates). My new rates are as follows:

  • For a two (2) party half-day mediation $1,250.00 (10:00 AM until 2:00 PM  or 2:30 PM until 6:30 PM) including prep time.
  • For a two (2) party full day mediation $2,000.00 (10:00 AM until 4:00 PM) including prep time.

My additional party and additional hourly rate is $300.00.

I look forward to demonstrating the value of these four-hour sessions to my clients and would greatly appreciate your feedback.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Jonathan T. Cooper is the taller, younger and non-bow-tied mediator with Cooper Mediation Inc. He mediates primarily, but not exclusively, in the area of personal injury and insurance. Jon was recently inducted as a Fellow of the International Academy of Mediators. The IAM is an invitation-only organization consisting of the most successful commercial mediators in the world who must adhere to the highest practice and ethical qualifications.

Jon can be reached at jon@coopermediation.ca or at (647) 260-1236.

To schedule a mediation with Jon, visit: https://coopermediation.ca/jonathans-online-calendar/.



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