Many clients have asked us, “What happens at a mediation? This is a general response. You will go to a central location in, for example, Los Angeles, to a mediation center. You’ll be put in one room with your lawyer or lawyers. Your brother or sister or whoever you are litigating against will be put in another room with their lawyers. The chances are that you may not even see the other side for the entire day. You could see them in passing as you’re on the way to the restroom. If lunch is provided in the main kitchen place of the mediation center, you might run into them there.
But, you don’t have to be in the same room with them. In fact, many mediators don’t do that anymore. When I first started litigating trust and will disputes, mediators always wanted to get parties together and they always wanted them to talk and have this kumbaya moment.
I found that that was really a bad idea in most cases because of the heightened emotions of the case. People are unhappy. They’re uncomfortable. They don’t want to be in the same room.
Most mediators will place the opposing sides in separate rooms. The mediator, who is typically a retired judge and has lots of experience in these cases, will go back and forth between the two rooms, much like a diplomat would, trying to settle the impasse.