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What Are Your Client’s Goals in Mediation?

August 6, 2020

Establishing a mediation strategy without considering your client’s goals in resolving a dispute is obviously misguided. However, it is important to look at the entire picture when you catalog your client’s goals.

You have already likely considered your client’s financial objectives. These economic considerations are often discussed between client and attorney and you can easily flesh out these objectives by structuring a series of questions directed to your client for consideration.

Non-economic goals can sometimes be more subtle and elusive. One type of non-economic objective relates to the desire to maintain specific relationships among the mediating parties after this particular dispute has been left in the rearview mirror.

Another non-economic objective relates to the timing of the resolution to the dispute. Sometimes there may be time pressure and your client needs to resolve the dispute as quickly as reasonably possible. In other situations there may be a specific deadline–such as the end of the fiscal year or the date before which budget projections must be finalized–that loom as important to the client.

Different types of objectives can also interact in salient ways in your client’s mind. Your client may be willing to settle for a particular amount if that resolution can be finalized and the check delivered by the end of next month, for example. Once that date has past, the financial picture of settlement could changed significantly for your client.

Take full stock of your client’s goals, both economic and non-economic, before moving forward into mediation. Also consider an important tradeoffs between the different types of considerations: financial, preservation of relationships, and timing.

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