When using technology in mediation, attorneys should keep animation simple, be credible and not use technology just for the sake of using it, panelists told members of the Medical Legal Committee at a recent meeting.
Panelists included Judge Sandra Mazer Moss (ret.), a distinguished neutral with the Dispute Resolution Institute; Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas Judge Lisa M. Rau; and Jerry P. Roscoe of JAMS The Resolution Experts.
After viewing two different versions of three-dimensional renderings of two different procedures, panelists were asked for their opinions of the animations. Judge Moss was very impressed with the first one because it was very simple and easy to understand. Additionally, it was easy to grasp the theory being propounded. She stressed the importance of simplicity as opposed to what was viewed in the second rendering that appeared to be more convoluted. She expounded that one or two sentences can be more effective then lots of words in your presentation.
Panelists further explained about the importance of picking and choosing what you put in your presentation. “When you are seeing technology from the other side, try to ask yourself how credible is that animation and how much of that is advocacy,” Judge Rau said.
Roscoe talked about the mediator’s perspective as opposed to a perspective for trial. “The mediator’s perspective concerns more about the conveyance of information than the admissibility of information.”
“During mediation there are lots of different audiences and with your technology you must persuade not only the judge, opposing counsel, the parties, and the lien holder,” said Judge Rau. Both Judges Moss and Rau said not to discount the lien holder and the value of the case from their perspective.
Although the percentage of the use of technology is still relatively small, estimated by panelists as anywhere from 10 to 25 percent, Judge Moss believes the percentage “is going up and that lawyers are realizing that technology can be an asset in meditation.
”Always keep in mind the length of your presentation – five minutes or less was an ideal. As the lengths of the videos increase, attention spans tend to decrease exponentially. Bringing in the actual product can be just as effective.
“Be creative, think outside the box,” Judge Moss said. Although animation was not used much by defense counsel, she talked about the use by defense counsel of a surveillance video in a suicide case.
Judge Moss discussed different options that could be offered for families as part of the settlement. Families might feel a sense of closure if these were provided. “An apology, a safety lecture, a plaque, destroying something that happened at the hospital,” were examples.
These remedies, like the use of technology, should be carefully considered and strategic when used, but if used properly, can be very effective.
Maureen M. Farrell (firstname.lastname@example.org) is principal in !e Law Offices of Maureen Farrell.
This article originally appeared in Philadelphia Bar Reporter, August 2014.