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VIRTUAL SETTLEMENT CONFERENCES

ENHANCED TECHNOLOGIES THAT SAVE TIME AND RESOURCES

VIDEO CONFERENCING FACILITATES MEDIATION CONFERENCES

Covid-19 has caused major disruption in how we conduct our lives, including how mediations are conducted. Customarily mediations occur in person, with everyone coming together for one goal, to resolve the issues of a case. However, due to COVID, it is not feasible for everyone to safely gather in one location, therefore virtual mediations have become an essential alternative. Virtual mediations, and even court hearings, have been found to be effective, efficient, convenient, and as successful as in-person forms of settlement conferences.

With the use of today’s technology, virtual mediations are a viable option, and as more people become comfortable using video technologies, physical mediations may become a thing of the past, even after the pandemic ends. There are many platforms available for conducting online mediations, however, the most commonly used platform is ZOOM.

A virtual mediation is very similar to traditional in-person mediation, but there are slight variations between the two. In addition, online mediations offer some advantages over in-person mediations, which include:

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  • Easier Planning and Scheduling. Like a traditional mediation, remote mediations require scheduling and planning to be successful. It is not uncommon for a mediator to become acquainted with a case prior to mediation by reviewing case documents, speaking with the attorneys or in some instances conducting a pre-mediation conference. With online mediations, this process can be accomplished with a preliminary virtual mediation conference. Proper planning is critical to ensuring the mediator is familiar with the case and is able to create a sufficient number of private “break out” rooms for all parties involved.
  • Elimination of geographical barriers. Physical distance constraints are no longer an issue since travel is not required for everyone to meet at a “neutral” location. Counsel, parties and experts can participate in an online mediation from anywhere. This means that no one is forced to travel long distances, which can often lead to substantial cost savings. All-day appearances can be eliminated for certain participants, such as experts. It is not necessary to require an expert to physically be present to attend all day as one would normally do for an in-person mediation. With a virtual mediation the expert can appear only as needed. Freeing up their time, and further reducing costs.
  • Document Presentation. With an online mediation it is not necessary to have the burden of lugging around huge amounts of documents. All documents that are shared, are easily shared electronically.
  • Break Out Time / Recessing. Like in-person meetings, online meditations will also come with significant downtime. However, in a virtual environment, you are free to do other things in the down time, as long as everyone agrees to promptly return to the meeting when called. Often mediators can provide a time frame or a heads up when they will return to the virtual room to ensure that all parties are back and ready. This is also extremely convenient when it is agreed to break for the day and come back. Scheduling of subsequent sessions is easier when everyone is participating remotely and has a free few hours available to log back in.

As Certified Family Financial Mediators and Certified Superior Court Mediators, Rebecca Knight and Marvin Pope know that mediations are a vital part of every case and often result in quick and efficient resolutions. By understanding the importance of mediations, and knowing that they shouldn’t be delayed due to physical barriers, they are now conducting mediations virtually through ZOOM. If you would like to schedule a virtual mediation with either Rebecca Knight or Marvin Pope, please contact us at (828)301-6438 or use our online calendar to reserve a date.

DECADES OF CONFLICT RESOLUTION EXPERIENCE

Mediator and Retired District Court Judge, Rebecca Knight

REBECCA KNIGHT

Mediator | Arbitrator
Certified Superior Court and Family Financial Mediator
Former Lawyer, District &
Family Court Judge
Marvin Pope's portrait

MARVIN POPE

Mediator | Arbitrator
Certified Superior Court Mediator
Former Lawyer, Superior,
District & Family Court Judge
Abitrator Gary Cash

GARY S. CASH

Mediator | Arbitrator
Certified Superior Court and Family Financial Mediator
Former Lawyer, District &
Family Court Judge