Don’t Negotiate


A mediator has less influence to obtain concessions from an absent party, even if that party is participating by phone or video conference, so avoid at all costs negotiating against an “empty chair,” that is, against a client or client representative who is not physically present. A party who has not bothered to attend the mediation lacks the investment in the mediation process that is made by a party who does attend. Moreover, it is easier for the mediator to influence and obtain concessions from your client who is physically present, placing it at a negotiating disadvantage. Ascertain beforehand that an opposing party with real settlement authority will be physically present at the mediation, and involve the mediator before the mediation if you are not satisfied.