Unless you’ve been living under a rock you probably know that this weekend there is a big football game between the team Taylor Swift’s boyfriend plays for and the other red and gold team. And while I’m much more of a college football fan (Go Dawgs!) all this makes me think of mediation. Huh? How you may ask?
This Super Bowl LVIII will be played in Las Vegas and Las Vegas always makes me think of confidentiality in mediation. Let me explain.
First, let’s unpack confidentiality in mediation. Confidentiality is at the heart of mediation and is one of the first things I discuss with my clients. All parties involved in the mediation process must feel assured that they can speak openly in the mediation sessions without the fear of subsequent disclosure of that information. Speaking freely allows us to uncover all topics and get to the heart of the issues. It allows us to create and nurture a safe space, meet the needs of the parties and craft a creative solution. I assure my clients that confidentially applies whether we’re all meeting together in joint session, as well as if I’m meeting with them separately in breakout sessions*. Many clients opt for mediation specifically BECAUSE of the confidentiality aspect of mediation. They have no appetite to have their emotional, sexual, financial or the reasons for the breakdown of their marriage as part of the public record for their neighbors, colleagues or children to see in the future, which would happen if they pursued litigation.
Prior to mediation my clients (and any other parties attending mediation, like attorneys or financial specialist) sign an Agreement to Mediate which, in large part, is a confidentiality agreement. This outlines the role of confidentiality in mediation. The first time I meet with my clients we spend a large part of my introduction discussing what confidentiality is and isn’t. And I give my clients ample time to discuss this, make sure they understand the scope of confidentiality in mediation and that they understand that mediation will be a safe space. And each subsequent time I meet with my clients, I remind them about confidentiality. That’s how important it is to the mediation process!
So what does mediation have to do with the Super Bowl?
When explaining confidentiality to my clients I tell them it is like those old Las Vegas commercials that said “What happens in Vegas stays in Vegas . . .” -- Confidentiality in mediation means what happens in mediation stays in mediation! And when I use this analogy, the heads nod and the smiles creep in and I know everyone is on board with confidentiality and we are ready to proceed!
*There are a few, special exceptions to confidentiality. Please discuss these with your mediator.
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