The Art of the Half-Day Mediation

Half-day mediations are tough. Tough for the mediator who must establish rapport with the parties and quickly move them through the phases of resolution. Tough for the attorneys who feel like they quickly have to convince the mediator of the justness of their cause. And tough for the parties who are so emotionally invested in the case. Putting aside feelings aside and getting down to the business of negotiating is counterintuitive.

Here are some tips to get the most out of a half-day mediation:

  • Attorneys should meet with their clients the day before the half-day mediation. Explain the process. Let the client vent. Lay out a strategy and set realistic expectations.
  • Don’t negotiate the same as in a full-day. Negotiate your own case. Don’t negotiate based on what the other side is doing. Don’t rely on a mediator’s proposal at the end of the day.
  • Get to the point. Posturing is counterproductive. In a half-day mediation, there simply is not enough time to play games. The resulting emotional response leads to further emotion. Before you know it, the time is up.

In my experience, half-day mediations work best when all parties desire to settle and just need help arriving at an acceptable number.

Half-day mediations can be a valuable resolution tool, but only if the attorneys and clients go into the process fully informed and prepared for the unique challenges of the process.

Originally published at on May 14, 2015.