Basic Training: What is Mediation?

Earlier this year, shareholder A. Michelle Jernigan took  part in a boot camp for paralegals. She offered fundamental advice about hiring a mediator and assisting when a mediation takes place. More questions? Call on Michelle at or (407) 661-1123
or case manager Cathy McCleary (

Florida Mediator Michelle Jernigan Florida Mediator and UWWM Shareholder Michelle Jernigan

What is mediation? A professional neutral helps disputing parties to reach agreement through third-party facilitated negotiation.

When Should Parties Institute the Mediation Process?

Most Courts in Florida will ultimately order parties in litigation to mediation. Depending on the case, mediation could take place before litigation commences, after discovery is complete, before or after summary judgment motions are filed, or at any other time during the litigation process.

Criteria for Selecting the Mediator

Experience as a mediator is critical. The more experience the mediator has, the more skillful she is in bringing about resolution. Generally lawyers seek a mediator who has experience mediating cases similar in nature to the subject case. The mediator’s personality and style are critical since she will be persuading people. She needs to be able to establish a rapport with the decision-makers and attorneys.

Gender, culture or race can be factors because parties need to feel comfortable with the mediator. Sometimes women plaintiffs are more comfortable talking about their physical condition with a female mediator. Sometimes racial or cultural minorities are more comfortable with a mediator who shares their culture, or at least understands what it is like to be in a minority. Subject matter expertise is often very useful and tends to be important if the case involves numerous attorneys. It is important to place a hold on the mediator’s calendar as soon as possible so that you will preserve the date. When you are ready to schedule the mediation, please consider the date and time of the mediation, the location, the fees and charges, the name of the mediator you are requesting, the location and the amount of time you think you will need for the mediation.

Next installment: More about before, during and after a mediation.

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