The Mediator’s Role: Helping you resolve the problem

Dec 17, 2022

In a dialogue with a colleague recently, we were discussing a problem encountered by a client and how to address problem solving in mediation.

It seems that, to some, it’s important to know what a court would do, and perhaps that’s how the professional would steer you.

When it comes to what a court would do, I prefer to send you to an attorney who can better advise you. I often wonder how much certainty a consulting attorney could offer, as it has always seemed to me that there can be a great deal of subjectivity in an individual judge’s interpretation of the law, based on the facts of a specific case.

From my perspective, the “problem” was created by one or both of the parties, and, as mediators, I don’t believe it is our role to solve the problem, but rather to help the parties understand the problem—discuss what matters in relation to addressing the question, consider the advantages and disadvantages of your options, and support efforts to help you make your own, informed decision on how to resolve the issue.

However, it’s important to remember that, when you as clients are facing a situation involving problem solving, I prefer to help you determine the best way to solve it.

It could also be the case that you just want help to figure out the issue on your own, not caring as much about the specifics of the law at this juncture as what seems acceptable to both of you based on your own values and needs.

It could also be the case that you just want help to figure out the issue on your own, not caring as much about the specifics of the law at this juncture as what seems acceptable to both of you based on your own values and needs.

My colleague laid out several viable approaches that clients could take. Each of these could be examined with you, looking at what the financial implications of each option would be, and then letting you use that analysis of options to inform yourselves as to which choice may be most suitable.

Helping clients develop a set of options, and then engage analysis and discussion, would seem to fit the facilitative mediation process best in this situation.