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What to expect

Each mediation is different, because each dispute is unique. But generally, a person who has hired us to mediate a conflict or dispute should expect the following general process:

My Calendar
We maintain a calendar showing the dates we are available for a mediation. This calendar can be accessed from this website by clicking on the button labeled “Check Available Dates.” Parties or their lawyers use this calendar to determine what dates are available and then discuss options with the other parties to the mediation. When they have some dates in mind, the can email us or give us a call. You can email Lori Hester at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or call her at 406-761-9400. 

See Calendar

Preliminary Mediation Conference
When the parties have a general idea of when they would like to schedule their mediation session, we usually schedule a preliminary conference with the mediator. The call usually includes all involved attorneys and any unrepresented parties. All parties involved in the dispute are welcome, but not required, to attend. The preliminary conference is held by videoconference or by a regular audio call. My preference (and suggestion) is that participants attend by videoconference, if for no other reason than to build familiarity with the process.

 At the preliminary conference, I typically discuss several matters with the attorneys:

  1. I ask each attorney (or party if they are not represented) to provide a brief, non-polarizing summary of the nature of the parties’ dispute. I ask for a succinct statement of both their own perspective on the problem and what they understand to be the other participant’s perspective.
  2. I assess the current status of the claim and how that might impact the timing and substance of settlement discussions. Is it currently in litigation? If so, what are the deadlines facing the parties? Is there any other timing factor that might make a discussion of resolution more or less productive?
  3. I ask who will be participating in the mediation conference, with an emphasis on ensuring that all necessary decision-makers will be in attendance.
  4. I discuss with each attorney or party whether there is any information that he or she needs to obtain from the other participant or a third party before they can meaningfully discuss the options for resolving the dispute. If necessary, we discuss how that information can be shared within the confidential boundaries of the mediation process, and the timing of the information exchanges.
  5. I ask about any prior discussions about settlement, including formalized settlement proposals. I discuss whether another round of proposals may be appropriate before the scheduled day of the mediation conference.
  6. I engage the participants in a discussion of the type of the information I will need to receive and review in advance of the formal mediation session in order to best understand each party’s perspective on the dispute. Typically, I require materials to be submitted to me online through a secure file sharing method (Dropbox or Sharefile) three to five business days before the mediation session.
  7. 7. I describe the available methods of mediation (online versus in-person) and answer any questions that a participant may have. We also set the date and time (and, if applicable location) of the mediation. I also discuss the potential that I will hold a further preliminary discussion with counsel and clients in advance of the mediation session to prepare for the session.
  8. Finally, I confirm how the mediation expenses will be apportioned between the participants, if not equally.

If the parties choose to conduct the mediation conference online, an invitation will be sent to the parties and counsel setting up the date and time when the mediation conference will commence. I also send a letter confirming the basic points of discussion during the preliminary conference and setting forth the rules that govern the process, including confidentiality. This letter is to be reviewed and signed by or on behalf of all participants and becomes an Agreement to Mediate.

On the day of the Mediation:
We usually set aside a whole day for the mediation session.  We can meet in person, or from separate locations using an “online mediation” process.  See the separate page regarding online mediation for more detail on that process. 

We begin in a brief opening session where all parties are in attendance, provided no one raises a concern about being in the same virtual or real meeting room with another participant.  The opening discussion is not confrontational; it is only informative.  I usually inform the participants about the process that will take place in the remaining sections of the day, discuss the expectations parties should have about keeping things respectful and civil, and the confirm the logistics of the remaining sessions. 

I usually separate the parties into separate meeting rooms, and meet with each participant and his or her representative confidentially.  I begin to clarify facts and positions and work with each party on proposals they have which will move the parties toward some mutually agreeable outcome.   The initial separate sessions are fairly long, but they move more quickly as the day goes on.

Success:  Resolution of your Dispute.
If the parties put in the work required, the mediation process is most often successful.  Success does not always mean a dispute is fully and forever settled, but it does mean the parties have clearly communicated about their different perspectives and shared what they would see as a good and fair resolution.  If the dispute continues to more litigation, the parties will know why it must do so.  The process can take a long time, or it can end quickly.

It is my practice to memorialize the agreements reached by the parties at the mediation in a written mediation settlement agreement.  It is signed by all parties and lawyers at the mediation, and is intended to end the dispute.  The attorneys then will draft and circulate for later signature other documents that will put the agreed settlement terms into effect.

Glenn E. Tremper, PLLC

This web site is designed for general information only. The information presented at this site should not be construed to be formal legal advice nor the formation of a lawyer/client relationship. All services are provided by Glenn E. Tremper, PLLC, a Montana Professional Limited Liability Corporation.

(406) 761-9400

Glenn E. Tremper, PLLC
P.O. Box 2263
Great Falls, Montana 59403

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