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Corona Virus and the Mediation Process

The Corona virus pandemic has caused significant delays in judicial proceedings, especially trials in pending cases. The lack of trials as an ultimate resolution to a case has led to increased opportunity for mediation/settlement procedures; however, the process of remote or on-line mediation/settlement conferences is still evolving.

One of the primary concerns in remote proceedings, is the lack of personal interaction, and the ability to evaluate your adversary up close and personal. While it is convenient to have the freedom of an office, living room, or conference room, emotions play a significant role in the litigation process. Video or audio transmissions alone just don’t have the same impact and effect!

While one-line mediations/settlement conferences offer flexibility, convenience, and opportunity, the use of remote technology is awkward. Are there a sufficient number of trained “neutrals” to meet the increasing demands of remote mediation? In addition, multiple-party litigation is difficult on both mediator/settlement officer and parties, due to the constant delay(s) and questionable skills of the host. Technology and training are continuing to improve and will hopefully upgrade the process.

The remote process of litigation is the “new-normal.” Personal appearances for mediations, depositions and court appearances are a thing of the past . . . at least for now. Litigation practice and dispute resolution has both its good and bad issues when handled remotely, but with time and continuing usage, the new methods of the practice of law should develop into this “new normal.” One thing is for sure, the practice of law has changed due to necessity, health, safety and protection of all the litigants. Remote mediation and settlement conferences are likely to become a permanent tool in the practice of law. The future is now for attorneys and clients!

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