Mediation is carried out between parties who have the authority to settle. This means that everyone needs to know and understand the purpose of the mediation and the limits of their authority to make decisions to move forward. Yesterday, I had to ask a board member to check the boards constitution to arrange a quorum of the board to be present at the mediation or make sure appropriate arrangements were in place in accordance with the constitution of the board so that decisions could be made at the mediation. Otherwise, without those who have the proper authority to settle on the day, the joint session mediation would not be so productive.

Mediation is future focused. It is not another venue to rehash the past. The purpose of the mediation must be clarified with everyone in preparing for the joint session. It is not helpful for anyone if the purpose is not clear at the outset because sometimes the people present don’t have the authority to do anything about the past in any event. Mediation is about working towards a solution, one that allows all parties to move on in their respective directions. One that settles a matter out of court, allowing all parties to move on, and hold up their responsibilities so that the resolution can be long lasting, and forward seeking.

There are many reasons why possessing a legal background is useful in ensuring that mediation is productive. Having the knowledge and expertise to enquire about legal formalities like the constitution of a board and being clear about the purpose of the mediation in no uncertain terms are just a couple of good reasons. When a mediator is familiar with the legal requirements and procedures specific to a case, mediation becomes more productive as the mediator can help troubleshoot proposed agreements and help parties understand the legalities and responsibilities required for their case.