Opening Statements in Mediation

  1. General Purposes of Opening Statements
    • Establish roles including mediator’s role as manager of the process
    • Develop constructive relationship between mediator and participants
    • Develop confidence in the mediator
    • Establish behavioral expectations (“ground rules”)
    • Determine and foster commitment to mediate cooperatively
    • Set initial agenda
    • Comply with ethical codes
  2. Issues Often Covered in Opening Statements
    • Alert participants how long opening statement may take
    • Introductions, possibly including mediator’s qualifications
    • Attendance, e.g.,
      • check on use of first / last names
      • presence of advisors, observers
      • photos of children not attending
      • whether necessary participants are missing
      • negotiators present have “sufficient” authority
    • Purpose(s) of mediation and mediator’s role
    • Impartiality / neutrality of mediator
    • Procedures, e.g., who speaks first Right to counsel / Roles of principals and attorneys
    • Principals’ control over outcome – voluntariness in reaching agreement
    • Confidentiality
    • Private meetings (“caucuses”) and privacy of information provided in these meetings; time may not be equal etc.
    • Time expectations for session and entire process
    • Other ground rules / guidelines, e.g., one person speaks at a time, respect, name-calling, suggestion to take notes
    • Housekeeping, eg, bathrooms, breaks, (no) smoking
    • Opportunity for participants to ask questions
    • Readiness / commitment of participants to proceed

© John Lande 1996-2000. Permission to copy granted if copyright notice is retained for credit.