If you are one of the many who have tried virtual dispute resolution, then you no doubt recognize its primary benefit--eliminating the need to travel to an office. But perhaps this format is new to you and slightly intimidating. I would like to offer some guidance.
Zoom video conference software is the platform most uniquely suited to conducting mediations. First time users of Zoom need not worry as getting started is quite simple. To start, each participant will choose to use either a computer or tablet. Download the Zoom app appropriate for your device. For a desktop computer or laptop, go to zoom.com and under “Plans and Pricing”, download the “Basic” free software. Should you decide to use a tablet, go to your App Store to download the Zoom app. You only need the free version of Zoom to participate, as the mediation session will be hosted by the mediator.
The primary Zoom settings are straight-forward. There are prompts for turning on/off your video and microphone. You can also set your screen view to either show all participants, or individual participants as they are speaking. The Zoom platform, as opposed to similar video-conferencing applications, offers the unique ability to enable “break-out rooms," providing much needed privacy between the mediator, attorneys and their clients, just as you would expect when mediating at an office.
I have been successfully mediating with the Zoom platform. Naturally, there is no real substitute for actually “being there." However, in my experience, even challenging cases can be settled using the Zoom platform. Zoom has become a trusted vehicle for getting it done.
ADR Services, Inc. has successfully offered virtual proceedings online for many years, and with the Zoom platform, mediations and other hearings can proceed without delay. ADR Services recently created a Zoom Task Force readily available to provide you with training before the mediation, and when needed, during the course of the mediation. You can also find helpful tutorials on zoom.com and on YouTube.
Eventually, we will all return to “business as usual.” However, I expect that this form of mediating will be with us, not only during these uncertain times, but in the years ahead as more people recognize the benefits of virtual mediation.
Hope to see you (albeit virtually) soon!