Convening – A good but seldom used ADR option
Mediation is not always the first answer to the question of how to assess settlement in a pending case. In many cases, clients may be better served by an assessment of how (or whether) ADR could apply to a given case, than by proceeding directly to mediation. This assessment need only take several hours. The term “mediation” has a very broad meaning, and how parties participate in mediation also varies dramatically. In many situations, the neutral’s role becomes that of negotiation facilitator.
I often suggest that parties are well served by using a “Neutral Convening” as a first step. In a Neutral Convening, I work with the parties (and legal counsel if applicable) in a short conference that is not intended to explore settlement directly. Rather, I work with the parties for an hour or two to discuss the various ADR options that are available, and to make a recommendation to the parties as to whether ADR may be suitable.
This is a relatively inexpensive option and may avoid the waste of time where mediation is not suitable. A Neutral Convening can take only a few hours, and gives the parties and counsel a chance to look at their ADR options. If the parties decide to go into an ADR option and as part of the Neutral Convening, I can help the parties draft an ADR agreement.