The spread of the COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in the closure of many businesses, organizations and government offices around the nation. Courts have been affected as well—many have had to halt regular operations.
The good news, however, is that courts and law firms have found ways of adjusting to the reality of a global pandemic by increasing their online service offerings.
While the proliferation of e-mediation services arose largely out of necessity due to the pandemic, e-mediation will continue to be a prominent service offering, even as pandemic-related restrictions relax and the pandemic itself starts to wind down (whenever that may be). Many clients, attorneys and court professionals alike have found e-mediation to be a process that can improve case resolution and overall client satisfaction.
Let’s take a closer look at the benefits of mediation and how bringing that process online has resulted in a high level of client satisfaction and positive results.
Mediation is one of the most frequently used alternatives to a trial. In a mediation, the parties and their respective attorneys work with a neutral mediator to discuss the issues and to negotiate solutions. The mediator is not present to act as a decision maker, but rather as a guide to help you come to arrangements that work for you both.
There are a variety of benefits associated with the mediation process:
- Cost: Mediation is significantly less expensive than having to go to a trial and all the hearings associated with it. In addition, because both parties maintain control over the outcome of mediation, you stand to lose less in the process.
- Confidential: Unlike with a trial, there is no public record created for mediation sessions. Everything you discuss and all the decisions you make are strictly confidential.
- Control: Throughout mediation, you maintain control over how you will resolve the issues of your case and, thus, are able to create arrangements that are based on what’s fair from your perspective. If your case goes to court, you relinquish this control to a judge who will impose decisions based on strict legal guidelines.
- Legal guidance: Though both parties have control over the mediation process and the decisions they make, they’re still able to have attorneys by their side throughout the process to advise them.
So long as two people are willing to show up, negotiate in good faith and be willing to compromise and make some concessions, the mediation process can be extremely helpful.
Bringing mediation online
The e-mediation process brings all of the same benefits of standard mediation, while also adding a few others. Consider the following:
- Convenience: Online mediation provides clients with some added convenience in that they don’t have to travel to an in-person meeting location. During the pandemic, while many people are working from home and also supervising children, this makes it much easier to complete mediation sessions without having to block off half a day. In a post-pandemic world, as people’s lives return to their normal hectic natures, cutting out the travel time can open up more scheduling opportunities.
- Comfort: The conference room at a law office can be a rather cold, intimidating setting to negotiate. There’s something comforting about being able to have these conversations and negotiations from the comfort of your own home.
- Cost effective: Time saved also translates to money saved. You won’t have to worry about travel expenses, missing as much work time or hiring childcare. You’ll simply be paying for the service without the added hidden costs.
- Power balance: In an online setting, it becomes much more difficult for one partyto attempt to exert authority over the other through pressure or intimidation. If you have any unease about engaging in face-to-face mediation sessions, the online setting can be much more comfortable and create a much better balance of power. You’ll still be able to benefit from advice and guidance from your attorney throughout the process.
- Accessibility: For individuals with disabilities, the ability to engage in online mediation sessions is extremely helpful, as they do not have to worry about accessibility concerns.
- Easy: Online mediation is simple—with a working computer or tablet and an internet connection, anyone can join a video conference session.
There are some logistical differences that must be maneuvered with online mediation. For example, any documents that must be signed will need to be signed electronically. People who are not technologically savvy may require assistance from another person in getting the meeting set up.
But, in general, the numerous advantages associated with e-mediation services are quite likely to make this a service that will remain popular even in a post-pandemic America. It expands on the increased client satisfaction associated with choosing standard mediation over a long-term trial and makes for more efficient and effective case resolution.
If you are interested in learning more about what the e-mediation process looks like and how it can benefit you, then please contact the E-Mediation Services firm today.