Sunday, May 25, 2008
Publicity and the Limits of Mediation
I had two interesting cases this week that hit me in the forehead with an "Aha" about the limits of mediation. The first was an employment case in which the employee had somehow become the recipient of a copy of the evaluation letter of the employer's attorney. When confronted with this apparent impropriety, she immediately returned the letter, but of course, could not "un-ring" that bell. In the second, the facts had already been highly publicized and the Plaintiff was not bringing the action for the award of damages, but rather the satisfaction of teaching a lesson to the errant defendants on how not to run their company. It occured to me only later that in that case a mediation was bound to be unsatisfying, because I couldn't offer the kind of publicity that the case demanded. To the contrary, because I am bound to strict confidentiality, I cannot offer the satisfaction that a trial can in instances like these.
In this mornings New York Times, there was an interesting article about a blogger in New York--who relishes the opportunity to privately "publicize" facts and impressions via her blog. I was struck by the contrast between my ability to "publicize" and my hard-earned lesson that the blogosphere cannot expect to be kept confidential. Thus, you will get no further disclosure from me on the case I failed to settle this week until the media properly reports it. Some cases need to go through that process in order to be fully "settled". Cases that are mediated are subject to strict confidentiality. Cases that need the traditional media to ultimately satisfy the litigants, will not likely be settled through mediation. That's the limit of mediation: and the promise of this mediator. Maybe I should have gone into journalism as a second career after all...