By Christina L. Scott, J.D.
During this difficult time, many law offices and other businesses have closed which has caused some parties to cancel their mediations. The good news is that mediation no longer needs to be cancelled or postponed! Covenant Mediation Services is now utilizing a video conferencing service that allows the participants to join a video conference mediation. Parties will be able to either download a little software onto their device or access the platform through their browser. Since the video conference can be accessed through the participants browser, persons that work at businesses that do not allow third party software to be downloaded will be able to participate in the mediation without issue.
An invitation is sent out that will allow the invited guests to join the video conference at a scheduled time. The participants can access the video conference from their computer or if no computer is available, participants can dial in or use the mobile app. Once everyone joins the conference, all participants with a web camera can see each other. If no camera, the participants would still be able to participant via audio only. All participants can talk with each other and can customize the viewing platform to show all of the participants or just the speaker. Each participant can share their desktops, any documents, videos, photographs, or any other things on the participant’s browser. This will make it very easy for everyone to review any documents or mediated agreements prior to signing. The mediated agreement or other documents can be sent to all participants and downloaded.
The best part about the video conferencing software is that it allows virtual breakout rooms to be created. These breakout rooms would serve as the “caucus rooms” where the mediator can still meet privately with the parties. Only the mediator can access the caucus room. Each participant in the caucus room could hear and see each other and perform the same functions as in the joint session. These rooms will enable the mediator to hold caucuses with each side and the other parties would not be able to hear or see what is being discussed. The mediator can end the breakout rooms at any time and bring all the participants back together.
The video conference is a great way to keep your mediations moving forward without delay and without concern about being exposed to the Coronavirus.