An Experience in Mediation! By Janet Lynch, CMCA
I had my first experience with Mediation in February 2015 in a case between an association where I was manager and a contractor who did faulty work. While I’m not sure what I expected to happen in the mediation session, what actually transpired was certainly not it. My advice to anyone involved in mediation, even in what you might consider a fairly simple case…is to come prepared to wait.
In addition to the mediator, in attendance were: the Association’s Attorney, myself, a quorum of the Association’s Board Members, the defendant, his attorney, and a representative of the defendant’s insurance company. First thing in the morning, all attendees were brought together for a brief time where the mediator explained the process of mediation. At that point, we were separated into two rooms and I never saw the “other side” again.
The mediator came into our room and explained how he saw things in this case and asked what we were looking for in this process. He took that information and left. We waited. He came back later and informed us of where the other side was at in this process and given the significant separation in expectations we knew we may be spending the day.
We spent our day at a large conference room table talking. The mediator would come in for a short while, we would listen to what the other side’s current position was, the board would make a decision on what they were willing to do, and the mediator would depart. This process of back and forth with the mediator coming in and leaving went on a number of times during the day. Each time he left we were closer to a settlement.
It was an interesting, although not overly productive day in the life of a property manager. There was much more “down time” than settlement talk time which surprised me. The high note was that by the end of the day (and we were there from 9:00am until 4:30pm) we were able to settle the case. And while the Board settled for a little less than the best case scenario we had hoped for, it ended the process which stopped the legal fees and brought a resolution so that the community could move forward.