FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
ATTENDING MEDIATIONS USING ZOOM
Online mediation is a versatile and safe alternative to traditional in-person mediations, allowing parties, counsel and mediator to work together from separate locations using video technology. Zoom is well-suited to mediations because it permits totally confidential discussions between attorneys and clients, with or without the mediator, in private break-out rooms.
How does the typical online mediation proceed?
- Joint Session: Usually a joint session with start off with the mediator explaining the process to all participants and a walk through of how the break-out rooms work. If counsel wish to make presentations, that done together while in the joint session. At this stage of the mediation, everyone is able to see, hear and talk to each other.
- Break-Out Rooms: The mediators then splits the parties into private break-out rooms. For example, with a two-party personal injury lawsuit, there would be one room with the plaintiff and plaintiff’s counsel, and another room with the defendant or an insurance representative and defense counsel. These break-out rooms are private from each other and the conversations that occur remain completely confidential. You can see on video who is in the break-out room so you know exactly who you are talking to. The other side will be in their own private break-out room: you can’t hear them, and they can’t hear you.
- Mediator Visits: The mediator then will travel from break-out room to break-out room, just like in a traditional mediation. When the mediator leaves the break-out room, the remaining parties in that room can still talk privately and confidentially.
Are you sure the other side can’t hear my private attorney/client conversations?
With Zoom, you see the people you are talking to and they see you. So, when you are in the joint session with all the participants, you can see and talk to everyone. When you are in a private break-out room, you see who is in the room with you and those are the only people who can see and hear you.
Sometimes with an in-person mediation in a law office, there are thin walls so you have to keep voices down. That is not an issue with Zoom break-out rooms, which afford total privacy and security.
Are sessions recorded?
No. Zoom does have a feature that allows recording, which is useful in business meetings. However, video recordings have no place in mediations. Only the mediator has the ability to turn on and control recording and they will never use this feature, to protect the integrity of the mediation process. On Zoom you can see if the session is recorded. You will never see that turned on in our mediations.
What if I want to share documents, visuals or PowerPoint presentations during the mediation?
Zoom does allow for “screen sharing” during a session. In order to do this, you will need to be working from a computer and have a free Zoom account set up in beforehand. It is worth practicing ahead of time, but not particularly difficult.
How do we document a settlement if everyone is online?
Typically, we draft a Settlement Term Sheet during the on-line mediation and share it electronically. If a settlement is reached, we can sign it in counterparts while everyone is connected.
What if a client wants to join the attorney, in-person, for the mediation?
This is not a problem. Both attorney and client working off one computer and participating as a team or we can set up separate connections in the same physical location.
What if separate defendants in a multi-party case want to visit privately during the mediation or if counsel for different parties need to speak separately at some point?
The mediator can easily set up break-out rooms in any configuration so people who need to talk together can do this in a private setting at any point in the process. Sometimes defendants in a multi-party case will want to get together to discuss allocation issues or strategy. Sometimes counsel will want to discuss issues with the mediator. All of this works seamlessly.
What is the downside to online mediation?
The only real downside to on-line mediation is the difference between sitting across the table from someone and communicating by video. Also, we can’t provide lunch to everyone.
Given the realities of lockdowns, social distancing and the current safety concerns associated with in-person mediation, this is a solution that allows mediations to continue forward in a safe and responsible way during challenging times.
Where can I find out more about Zoom?
Go to https://zoom.us to find out more about the platform we use. Under the Resources tab, at the top right of the screen there are video tutorials if you want to dig deeper. As mentioned, you can also download the Zoom Cloud Meetings app on your iPhone or Android phone.
What if I want to just connect to a mediation without a lot of process and effort?
- Download Zoom Client, go to https://zoom.us, click on Resources at the top right of the screen, and then Download Zoom Client.
- Click on the link we e-mail you to join the mediation.
SECURITY IN A VIRTUAL MEDIATION USING ZOOM
Your privacy is our top priority and we are committed to providing the most robust security measures available in an online environment. For Zoom video conference mediations our protocol includes:
- Resolute schedules each mediation separate and apart from any other mediation. This creates a unique 9 Digit Meeting ID in Zoom. This is formatted by Zoom in a Unique URL which Resolute sends only the participating parties of that case
- Each separate mediation also creates unique dial-in numbers, which Resolute provides to the participants. Accordingly, participants in one mediation cannot enter the hearing room of another case
- As additional security, Resolute requires a Meeting Password to enter the mediation along with the 9 Digit Meeting ID. Resolute uses this feature on all mediations and helps prevent someone breaking into a meeting
- Resolute always uses Zoom’s “Waiting Room” feature and we do not admit any participant who is not a confirmed party to the mediation
- Resolute removes the Zoom recording feature and ability to save chat communications for each mediation
- Unlike a webinar or general meeting, Resolute’s mediator has control over the mediation. As such, the mediator has can remove any unauthorized participants
- The Resolute mediator controls the screen sharing feature to allows participants to show documents and/or videos
- Resolute mediator separates participants into locked breakout rooms that prevent any unauthorized individual from accessing. The room is notified every time someone enters or leaves the room/mediation
- Resolute requires mediators to communicate with participants before they enter a locked breakout room either through a broadcast message to all or other electronic means
- Resolute’s IT Department monitors each mediation and can assist immediately if requested. This includes ensuring only authorized participants attend