As a student at MB, I am given the opportunity to attend “field trips,” which allows me to attend pretrial conferences, discoveries, and mediations.
"Recently, I attended my first “field trip” which was a mediation."
During my first two years of law school, I participated in numerous moot competitions. However, unlike a moot competition which consists of a hypothetical scenario, this mediation consisted of facts and parties who are directly affected by the outcome of the case. I didn’t know what to expect from the mediation or how the disputing parties would work together to reach a resolution. What I did know going into the mediation is that it would involve a mediator (a neutral third party) who helps facilitate communication between the opposing parties with the hope of ultimately reaching a settlement that is beneficial for all parties involved.
Going into the mediation, I was asked to review the mediation briefs of the plaintiff and defendant. This was a helpful exercise in preparation for my attendance, as it gave me a glimpse into how each side was going to present their case on the day of the mediation.
The virtual mediation began with the mediator exchanging pleasantries with counsel. Despite the adversarial nature of litigation, counsel was friendly with one another and engaged in small talk, which is not what I had expected.
Then the mediator gave an opening statement to provide an overview of the mediation process. The plaintiff and defendant’s counsel then each presented their case. It was captivating to observe each side's persuasive oral advocacy skills when presenting their case.
After opening statements were heard, we were off to the races. The mediator helped facilitate the exchange of settlement offers between the plaintiff and defendant. It was great being able to observe counsel strategize and engage in various negotiation techniques, which helped me realize that there is an art to negotiation.
The informal nature of mediation allowed the disputing parties to exchange settlement offers confidentially, which meant that any settlement discussions at mediation would remain confidential and cannot be shared at trial. This proved to be highly beneficial as it allowed both parties to negotiate settlement offers that they otherwise might not be open to.
In the end, although the parties were making progress, there were several issues still in dispute with respect to damages and liability. Accordingly, it was difficult for the parties to reach a settlement.
While this mediation started off as an opportunity to take notes and absorb as much knowledge as I could, it quickly turned into an opportunity where I am now involved in the next steps of the file. Overall, the mediation was a fantastic experience and I’m excited to attend many more “field trips” this summer and learn as much as I can.
by Chanpreet S.