Serving as a mediator

By Jeffrey Shinehoft February 2, 2022

One of the biggest honours is when colleagues call upon me to act as an independent mediator to help settle a case between two parties. Unlike my litigation files, as a mediator, I do not represent either side. I also do not offer legal advice. My sole focus is on bringing the people in the room to an agreement.

I create a framework to govern the process and ensure a commitment to operate in good faith.

My role remains neutral, and I ensure the information from the mediation proceedings is kept confidential. Creating the right atmosphere is crucial to ensure both parties feel safe physically, emotionally and legally and participate without fear, judgement or prejudice.

As needed, I remind parties of the rules, take action to keep the dialogue on track, and provide encouragement to keep everyone at the table.

Being a good communicator with a strong sense of empathy helps each side understand the other and make sure everyone is heard and feels respected.

This process can sometimes hit bumps in the road. In these situations, I may raise awareness of the risks of not finding a joint agreement.

It is worth noting that a mediator has no decision-making power. This limitation is a good thing as it makes it easier to build trust and get parties to share information comfortably.

The parties also have rights. For example, they may weigh in on the ground rules for the mediation process, and they may withdraw at any point. After the framework agreement is signed, however, all sides commit to participating in good faith and sharing information fully and honestly.

If you are considering mediation to settle your or a client’s dispute, I look forward to hearing from you and learning how I can help.