Saturday, February 2, 2008
It's an interesting thing, mediator ethics. I know that many mediators, particularly those that had a stint as Judges in prior lives, advise the parties before them that they will beat up on each side until they get a settlement. I, on the other hand, tend to prefer to cast the whole event in a more positive light, by letting the parties know I'm there to partner with them to get the best deal--while telling the same to the other side. In the end, we achieve the same result: a settlement that both parties can live with. But what I hope to achieve is a settlement in which both parties are satisfied, whereas those that take the "beating up" approach tend to go after the settlement where both parties are equally unhappy. Is that a violation of my mediators ethics? I attended a training this week with the LA Superior Court in which the Judge very plainly cautioned that we must never allow a litigant to have reason to believe we are biased towards (or against) them. Yet I know it is common practice in our community for mediators to treat clients to meals, sporting events and concerts. Even a bottle of wine or cigar at the conclusion of a settlement is not unheard of! So are our ethical constraints different than a Judges? And if so, is it time for us to revisit them? I'm still considering this one...with no answers this week, only questions.