Depending on the mediator, the parties may start in a joint-session, where the mediator talks to all parties about the process of mediation and what the goals of mediation are. Sometimes the mediator will ask the representation for each party to make a short statement of their client’s position. After this initial joint-session, the parties will break out into separate rooms for the majority of the mediation as the mediator travels back and forth between the parties. The parties may come together again at the end of mediation if the matter is resolved, to sign a mediation agreement and go through the terms of the agreement.
Another alternative, often requested in sensitive employment disputes or controversial will contests, is to keep the parties separate for nearly the entire mediation. In this version, the mediator will meet with each party separately at the beginning of the day, and then continue to travel back and forth between the parties until the parties reach an agreement or impasse. If the parties reach an agreement, the mediator will ask the parties to meet in a joint-session to discuss the terms of the agreement and sign the agreement.
Regardless of the method of mediation, the mediator will sometimes request to meet with the attorneys separately. In this situation, the mediator wishes to speak with the attorneys privately about the legal issues in the case. This can happen multiple times throughout the day, as the mediator travels back and forth between the parties. Sometimes, the mediator will have the attorneys for both parties meet together, and request the parties stay separated. This allows the attorneys to discuss their claims freely, without putting the parties in an uncomfortable position of having to see their adversary.