The Closer

A Mediation Newsletter April 2013

Anticipating the Next Move
by James Rainwater

If you play chess, you already understand some of the fundamentals of mediation. If you frequently go to mediation, then you already understand the principles of playing chess. The key fundamental and principle involved in chess and mediation? Anticipation: What is the likely response to your move?

I certainly do not wish to trivialize the seriousness of mediation, but the interplay of the issues and parties can often be likened to a vigorous game of chess. A good chess player knows to consider not only the implications of the first move but also the next move and the move after that.

The same strategy applies to mediation. When you make an offer, what are the probable responses to it? Then, what are your likely replies to that response? And ultimately, what is your reply to that response? As in chess, an attorney in mediation constantly needs to be looking at the possible second and third moves of the opposing party.

While it is nearly impossible to anticipate every potential response, it is vital to a thorough mediation to strategize and prepare for that actual response. This not only saves time; it also prepares your client for a variety of eventualities and outcomes. Logical and expanded anticipation can reduce the shock value of an opponent's offer or demand.

An interactive mediator will present scenarios and probabilities, so that each party has a fair grasp of the situation and possibilities for settlement. An attorney in mediation should be open to these suggestions and seize upon the opportunity to educate the client as to what may be necessary to reach a resolution. Knowing what may be on the road ahead can ease the client's trepidation and streamline the settlement process. Though there is no "checkmate" in a successful mediation, there is an agreement that mutually benefits and impedes each party.

Rainwater Law