FAQs re logistics and fees
“Where do you handle mediations?”
I am very familiar with California and Ninth Circuit appellate practice and procedure, so that is the main focus of my mediation practice. Within those jurisdictions, I handle mediations everywhere, currently over Zoom (and, when conditions allow, also in person).
“How effective are Zoom mediations?”
During the COVID-19 crisis, mediations using Zoom or similar video conferencing platforms have gained in popularity. And they will likely continue even as the pandemic eases.
Mediations via Zoom can be very effective. They can replicate the essence of an in-person mediation, with “virtual breakout rooms” for each side and other caucusing and a “room” for joint sessions. The task of the mediator is to ensure that the settlement dynamic that can build when everyone is in the same building is carried over into the virtual arena. And the lawyers have a role in ensuring that the intense focus of an in-person mediation is not lost.
Although video mediations grew out of necessity, they do have advantages. They are easy to arrange. And they can work out less expensive, especially if the lawyers and parties would otherwise have to travel to be present.
“What are your fees for Zoom mediations?”
I try to set my fees at a level to make my services available to as wide a range of litigants as possible. With my rates for Zoom mediations, the cost of mediating an appeal can be as little as $1,000 per side in a two-side case:
- My rate for the duration of a Zoom mediation is $500 per hour with a three-hour minimum.
- I generally charge a flat rate of $500 for preparation, even if the time spent is longer then an hour. (This may be higher in complex cases with more than two sides.)
- Unless otherwise agreed, the mediation fee is split evenly between each side. (Thus, in a two-side mediation, the minimum works out to $1,000 per side: 3 x $250 plus $250 for preparation.)
- I do not charge administration fees for Zoom mediations. There are no extra charges whatsoever.
- I do not charge rescheduling or cancellation fees. I recognize that things happen. And it is not a good idea to have a mediation if one of the parties is feeling unwell or unprepared. However, I expect parties not to take unreasonable advantage of this, since rescheduling is disruptive to people’s schedules.
“What does pre-mediation preparation involve?”
I encourage each side to submit a mediation brief. I assume that these are confidential and for my eyes only unless a party makes clear they have served the other side. I usually speak to the lawyers on the phone shortly before the mediation. But it can also be helpful to have a short pre-mediation Zoom conference with each side, with parties present, partly to review ground rules and identify goals, but also to demonstrate virtual breakout rooms, screen sharing, and the like. This can help ensure that everyone feels comfortable with the process when the actual mediation gets going. This is included in the standard preparation charge.
“How much time should we allow?”
Typically, I recommend starting the mediation at around 9 AM or 10 AM if everyone is on the West Coast. That way, if there appears to be traction, but a resolution is not reached within three hours, we can reconvene after breaking for an hour or so. I try to keep my schedule flexible for the remainder of the day unless the parties have signaled in advance that they would not be available to reconvene in the afternoon.
“What if the appeal does not settle at the mediation?”
If a resolution is not reached at a mediation, settlement can follow soon after. Sometimes, for whatever reason, one can’t quite get there on the day. But that isn't a reason for giving up. So some mediation sessions end with an agreement to reconvene on another day. But even without such an agreement, I follow up with counsel post-mediation to see whether there is anything further I can do.