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Mediation Blog

A Unique Event

I am looking forward to having a great conversation on November 2, 2022, with two mindfulness experts on how mindfulness can help resolve conflict. This unique CLE webinar by the ADR Section of The Florida Bar will be a panel discussion between a lawyer/mediator, a neurologist, and a Buddhist monk.

I suspect this may be the very first time such a discussion has been presented as a continuing legal education program. By tuning in, you will have the opportunity to see what we all have in common and gain some additional tools that can help you resolve disputes.

You will receive 1.0 hour of CLE credit as well as 1.0 hour that counts towards the requirements for mental health. The great news is that if you register now, you will have access to the recording of the program in case you have a schedule conflict that day.

Solve the People and Solve the Problem

This program follows my dispute resolution mantra that if you solve the people first, you will have a better chance at solving the problem. As lawyers, we are in the people business. That simply means our business is all about people and their interactions. Applying the law to people and their interactions can actually be the easy part. The harder task is dealing with the puzzle of people, their beliefs, biases, motivations, and reactions.

The skills and tools that a lawyer uses for litigation are very different than those that should be used for dispute resolution and mediation. I think we can agree that bringing a hammer to fix a computer is not the right choice. Just the same, bringing a hammer to mediation can also be counter-productive. Perhaps it is time to choose another tool.

Internal and External Conflict

Conflict has both internal and external components. Your internal conflict, anxiety, stress, and day-to-day feelings can have an impact on how you approach external conflict. Likewise, external conflict, dealing with others and problems, can cause or impact your internal conflict.

Most of the time we ignore the connection between internal conflict and external conflict. The traditional focus is only on external conflict. However, if we appreciate this connection and work on both the internal and external, we can have a better approach to solving both. This is where mindfulness comes in as a meditation tool.

Mindfulness as a Mediation Tool

Mindfulness as a mediation tool is really all about expanding your perspective. This is not about meditation during mediation, candles, or incense. Rather this is about how to mindfully observe yourself and others in a curious and non-judgmental way. Mindfulness reduces our internal and external critic so we can make better choices without emotions getting in the way.

With mindfulness, we can see the bigger picture and more options, all valuable when trying to find creative solutions to problems. Likewise, with mindfulness, we can build better connections with people that will help build rapport and assist in collaborative problem-solving.

Seeing additional options, using creativity, building rapport, and better collaboration are all invaluable tools for resolving disputes. If you want to learn more, tune in to the upcoming program!

Less conflict, more resolution.

Patrick Russell

Miami Florida Mediator

Meaningful Mediation is Ethical, Mindful, and Strategic

meaningful mediation

In honor of Mediation Week, which is on the third week of October, members of The Florida Bar Alternative Dispute Resolution Section are hosting “Mediation Mixers” at various locations around the state. The purpose of these events is to provide information about ADR Section membership, and encourage networking and camaraderie among lawyers, litigators, and fellow mediators.

Help Me Help You

In the end, I think we all can agree that whether you are a lawyer, litigator, or mediator, we are all in the dispute resolution business. That simply means we all seek the same thing, a resolution to conflict. We can all help each other resolve conflict better when we view ourselves as being on the same team and not as competitors. When we all adopt a mindset of "help me to help you", we all benefit as do the litigants and the legal system as a whole.

Building Rapport and Trust

One way of helping to adjust our mindset and to get ourselves out of our respective silos is to meet, talk, and see how much we actually have in common. When we build rapport and trust, we are better equipped to undertake a joint mission for solving problems and disputes. This is certainly one goal for the upcoming "Mediation Mixers".

Miami Mediation Social Mixer

I am helping to organize the Miami Mediation Mixer. I hope you will join us at the Miami event on October 20th from 5:30–8:30 PM, at American Social –Brickell, 690 SW 1st Ct., located right on the Miami River.

We’ll have complimentary appetizers and a cash bar, and valet parking is available onsite. Special thanks to our sponsors and hosts, Steven Chaneles and Salmon & Dulberg Dispute Resolution.

Space is limited, so please RSVP in advance by emailing me at

We hope to see you there.

Patrick Russell

Miami Florida Mediator

Meaningful Mediation is Ethical, Mindful, and Strategic

meaningful mediation

Best and final offers are usually made at the very end of mediation after protracted negotiations. Either party can make a best and final offer or you can have competing best and final offers from each side.

End Game: Best and Final Offers

The evaluation of the best and final offer is what will result either in an impasse, an adjournment of the mediation to consider it more, or a settlement. The question is how and when to get to the best and final offer.

There are no right or wrong ways to convey your best and final offer. Ironically, before mediation begins, you already have that number but it often takes a long time to convey it.

Opening Offers

Very rarely does anyone want to start a negotiation off with their best and final offer because they know the other side expects you to negotiate down from your first offer. So often you will see parties start with extremely high demands and extremely low offers to have space to move and to feel out the other side.

The downside to this strategy is that it could be extremely unsettling to one party, more so, if there were previous settlement negotiations and the offer conveyed at mediation is much higher or lower than the last offer made. This type of strategy can derail a mediation before it even begins. Under these circumstances, trust and rapport between the parties is challenged. To the extent that it can be saved, it will take a long time to just get the parties back to where they were in previous negotiations.

Mediation Efficiency with Best and Final Offers

In the end, the competing interests at mediation for best and final offers is efficiency versus getting what you perceive as the best deal. Getting quickly to best and final offers improves efficiency and reduces the time at mediation. Negotiating slowly with the traditional offer and counter offer over numerous rounds satisfies the perception and need for making progress and getting the best deal. I would suggest that it is possible to achieve both efficiency and getting the best deal at the same time.

Making Reasoned Offers

The way to do this is to start with reasonable offers that can be supported with credible arguments and verifiable facts. For example, if there were negotiations prior to mediation, any starting offer at mediation should not deviate much from prior offers unless there has been a substantial change in circumstances.

A substantial change in circumstances would include new information as to how liability or damages have changed. If that is the case, you must explain and show how liability or damages have changed, otherwise you run the risk of having your new offer seem unsubstantiated or unreasonable.

Similarly, any subsequent offer should be supported with a factual basis so it can be understood by the other side. An offer that does not include an explanation as to why and how it was calculated provides more questions than answers.

The Need to Share Information

When making a decision, people feel comfortable when they have information to consider. Good decisions can be made when you have information. When there is information, you can make a reasoned choice and justify it for better or worse.

When there is a lack of information, the opposite applies. People do not feel comfortable when they try to evaluate an offer without any supporting basis or facts. An offer without any reasoned and supporting basis appears arbitrary. In this instance, the unknown becomes an intellectual and psychological barrier to making a decision.

The Takeaway

To achieve efficiency at mediation while getting the best deal at mediation, both parties should provide credible and reasoned offers that explain and show their supporting basis. To avoid protracted founds of negotiations at mediation, the parties should avoid making unnecessary offers that are arbitrarily high or low. When prior negotiations have taken place, the parties should no not deviate from those prior offers unless there is a substantial and verifiable reason for doing so.

When making offers be sure to back it up with information so the other party can fully evaluate the offer and it appears to be reasoned and made in good faith. Doing so builds rapport and trust. With rapport and trust, the parties are more likely to collaborate and can intelligently debate the merits of the offer. In the end, the goal is get as quickly as you can to where the rubber meets the road and a well-informed decision can be made.

Less conflict. More resolution.

Patrick Russell

Miami Florida Mediator

Meaningful Mediation is Ethical, Mindful, and Strategic

meaningful mediation

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