Any attorney practicing during the Covid pandemic knows that zoom has quickly replaced our normal way of interacting as professionals. Zoom hearings, depositions and mediations are becoming the norm in our profession.
As a mediator, I value the convenience of zoom mediation. It can save time and money. However, in difficult negotiations there is no replacement for the personal interactions that can move the ball forward when the parties are entrenched in their position. It’s too easy for an adjustor or attorney to tune out or ignore the other parties when things do not go as expected. And mediations, just like trials, don’t always play out as expected.
With new platforms comes new rules and practice guidelines. Some Courts have come up with best practice guidelines to assist practitioners unfamiliar with this process.
Some of the most useful guidelines include the following:
- To properly host a mediation you need a desktop computer as iPads and tablets will not support the creation of breakout rooms. Encourage your
participates to download the zoom desktop application (https://zoom.us/download)
- Confirm with all participants that unauthorized individuals will not be overhearing any discussions during the zoom session. Zoom encrypts all meetings using TLS1.2 with an advanced 256-bit algorithm
- Prior to the mediation you should have your participants sign an confidentiality agreement
- If your zoom mediation will require you to communicate with people while viewing documents, make use of second monitor
- Turn off all visual notifications and close any unnecessary tables in your browser so they don’t pop up unexpectedly
- Before the session do a test session to assure your participants can fully access their video and audio functions. Exchange phone numbers so if parties get cut out accidently, you can quickly address the issue
- If you encounter a disruptive participant, you can remove him or her by clicking on participants at the bottom of your zoom window and then click remove. You can also mute noisy participants
- Be aware that as a host, you cannot force your participants to unmute. People often forget to unmute, so explain ahead of time the visual sign for unmute and show them how to access the function
If you have questions about Zoom mediation or want to hire a zoom mediator, call the Law Office of Jeffrey J. Downey. Mr. Downey has worked both as a defense attorney and a plaintiff’s attorney. He is well versed in handling both legal and technical issues related to any zoom mediation, although his preference is in person mediation. Mr. Downey, who is admitted to practice law in Virginia, Maryland, Washington DC and New York, offers mediation and arbitration services in all these jurisdictions.
The Law Office of Jeffrey J. Downey
8300 Greensboro Drive, Suite 500
McLean, Virginia 22102