Many Florida attorneys perceive mediation as just another step on the way to a trial. However, mediation should be treated as if it were a trial, since the outcome of the case is at stake and since a case is far more likely to be resolved at mediation than by means of a trial.
You should study your entire file as you begin preparing for mediation in Florida. Be sure to review all pleadings, discovery, motions, deposition transcripts, notes, and other items that you have in your possession. Chances are, there may be a detail or two that you have forgotten that will be useful in mediation.
As you thumb through your file, make a separate folder to store documents necessary for mediation. Organize these however you wish, so long as you can quickly find whatever document you need during mediation. You should have your entire file with you for mediation, but having a separate folder of the most relevant documents will facilitate settlement discussions.
Many attorneys have participated in so many mediations that they become second nature. However, remember that this may be your client’s first mediation, and he or she will likely be very nervous. Take the time to meet with your client and explain the mediation process, including the rules of confidentiality. When your client understands the process, he or she will be better able to focus on settling the case. Make sure your client understands that he or she is there to settle the case, not to win the case and not to punish the other side.
During your meeting with your client, create a list of goals together for mediation—this will help you remain focused at mediation and will also ensure that no details are left out of a settlement agreement. And where practicable, bring a draft fill-in-the-blanks settlement agreement with you to the mediation.