It’s an interesting thing, mediator ethics. I know that many mediators, particularly those that had a stint as Judges in prior lives, advise the parties before them that they will beat up on each side until they get a settlement. I, on the other hand, tend to prefer to cast the whole event in a more positive light, by letting the parties know I’m there to partner with them to get the best deal–while telling the same to the other side. In the end, we achieve the same result: a settlement that both parties can live with. But what I hope to achieve is a settlement in which both parties are satisfied, whereas those that take the “beating up” approach tend to go after the settlement where both parties are equally unhappy. Is that a violation of my mediators ethics? I attended a training this week with the LA Superior Court in which the Judge very plainly cautioned that we must never allow a litigant to have reason to believe we are biased towards (or against) them. Yet I know it is common practice in our community for mediators to treat clients to meals, sporting events and concerts. Even a bottle of wine or cigar at the conclusion of a settlement is not unheard of! So are our ethical constraints different than a Judges? And if so, is it time for us to revisit them? I’m still considering this one…with no answers this week, only questions.
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