A good mediation summary includes key components of the narrative and should include a brief summary of the legal issues of your case, so you should know how to write one.
A written mediation summary is absolutely essential when it comes to communicating during the process. It offers three different audiences a very simple overview of your skills: your client, other attorneys, and your mediation. Your client will once again be reminded of just why they hired you as a great attorney.
The other attorney and his or her clients will quickly know the power of your story, the strength of your evidence, and just how skillful you are should you ever go to trial. Learning how to write a mediation summary that displays all of those traits can be a little daunting if this is the first time trying to write an effective mediation summary. Understanding what works and what doesn’t is absolutely key to moving forward.
These tips can help:
- Find the Right Tone
- Tell a Good Story
- Include Evidence to Support Your Position
- Add an Analysis Section
- Consider Adding Visual Aids
Now, let’s get into these tips a little deeper.
Find the Right Tone
In court, you might have a very different tone than you do in a mediation summary. An effective mediation summary isn’t defensive. It isn’t urging a fast, big solution to the problem. Instead, it is reasonable. Mediation summaries are supposed to encourage collaboration. You want your summary to at least make it look like you’re searching for some common ground.
After all, everyone involved in the process is trying to settle the dispute, so looking at the situation from that perspective means not being a loud advocate at the moment. Should you go to trial, the day will come when you need to build that tone, but your initial summary should create an atmosphere that helps to encourage settlement, not build additional grievances.
Be as reasonable as possible as you write.
Tell a Good Story
An effective mediation summary is a single, coherent narrative.
It’s the one space in this entire case where you can tell your story as clearly as possible. People are influenced by stories, and telling your client’s story in a persuasive manner can help everyone involved see his or her point of view and create a humanistic perspective instead of making the case about something else entirely. Remember to include a solid theme throughout your story (a life lesson to which everyone can relate) and keep it as simple as possible.
Good themes are those that almost everyone knows are true” As you tell your story, though, make certain that you’re continually conveying your professionalism and experience. Ensure the document itself is well written, attractive, and looks like a polished document.
You may also want to prepare additional copies so the attorney on the other side can forward one to his or her client.
Include Evidence That Supports Your Position
Learning how to write an effective mediation summary means learning how to carefully weave the evidence in so that the story rings true.
Any place where the validity of your account may be called into question should have corroborating evidence included to back it up. Feel free to include this in the form of exhibits attached to the presentation, as that will help show you are ready to take this case to trial should mediation not be the way forward.
For example, imagine the dispute at hand is centered around a contract. Make certain that the contract is exhibit A. This not only shows your presentation is ready for the mediation table or the trial, but it also offers powerful proof during the actual mediation.
Within those exhibits, feel free to highlight the necessary portions to help draw everyone’s attention to exactly what is disputed. In the imaginary contract dispute above, highlight which paragraph created the initial problem. Feel free to quote parts of it in the story as well.
Add an Analysis Section
The story is absolutely essential. However, the evidence to back up the story is important, too. As is a legal analysis of the case to which everyone involved can refer.
Even if you’ve handled thousands of employment law cases, it may be helpful to see a quick review of the case law involved in the actual case that’s been raised. To do this within your mediation summary, offer a quick note about the essential regulations or codes that apply. Quote the statutory language and previous cases.
You may want to mention the burden of proof or any other analysis that might be helpful to this case.
Consider including Visual Aids
Your words alone can paint an amazing picture of the case, but including photos, charts, or diagrams are a great way to build out your summary.
Visual elements can quickly help augment your story and persuade others to see what you do. What’s more is that if you build them out during mediation, you can likely use them should your case go to trial, too. In some cases, the visual aids you include may actually be more compelling than your story.
Ultimately, mediation summaries are the one space where you can build a careful message you’re certain will be heard without interruption. It’s the space where you can change the decision-making process and reach a settlement faster, and tips like these can help you get there.