A New & Very Convenient Mediation Method
Like many people, Retired Judge Harriet Derman was overwhelmed when the Covid pandemic started and people were talking about something called “Zoom" to conduct Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) meetings. She had no idea what this concept was, but was not ready to forgo her mediation and arbitration practice. Judge Derman took Zoom and YouTube tutorials, She practiced with cooperative members of her family, putting them in “breakout rooms,” and she even drafted her own Protocol, which many mediators and arbitrators in New Jersey have adopted. One of Judge Derman’s first mediations on Zoom was almost ten hours and the matter settled. So successful was Judge Derman’s use of Zoom, that she has now taught two classes for the New Jersey State Bar Association Continuing Legal Education Program.
In both Probate and family disputes and employment discrimination cases, there is often a need for plaintiffs to establish a bond with the mediator. Judge Derman found the Zoom platform was no obstacle or impediment and she was able to win the confidence of all parties to the dispute. Break-out rooms can be just as an effective barrier as a separate conference rooms. Litigants who never want to confront their adversaries can be effectively separated. Similarly, with arbitrations, any preliminary concerns were eliminated: participants engaged; documents were accessible; credibility could be ascertained; and security assured.
While in person mediation and arbitration are still preferred, using a platform, such as Zoom, is very effective.