There are almost as many mediation styles as there are mediators, and it’s important for counsel to choose a mediator with whom they and their clients are comfortable.
Valerie Edwards approaches mediation with the overriding goal of achieving a resolution before the end of the day. This requires a combination of good judgment, patience, creativity and last, but not least, tenacity.
As a general rule, Ms. Edwards does not invite opening statements. After brief introductory observations on the uncertainty of litigation proceedings, and the nature of the mediation process, she breaks the parties into separate caucuses for the balance of the day.
During caucus, Ms. Edwards will generally begin by asking questions to develop rapport with the clients, and to start the process of probing for weaknesses in the case in order to assist the client and his or her lawyer to assess risk. She describes her style as “cautiously merits based”, treading the line between building trust and providing honest evaluation.
The most difficult part of mediation is overcoming what initially appear as insurmountable obstacles to settlement. What sets Ms. Edwards apart from most mediators is her refusal to give up on the process. Very few clients want to keep fighting, and fewer still want to go to trial. What seems impossible at 2:00 pm can often be achieved by day’s end with determination and hard work.