With the lifting of Covid protocols, in-person and hybrid mediations are becoming much more common. A hybrid mediation is one in which one party appears for the mediation in-person while the other party appears via Zoom. I am often asked whether hybrid mediation is effective. Put another way, is there an unfair advantage given to the party who appears at the mediation in-person instead of via Zoom?
In my experience, hybrid mediations (just as Zoom mediation) work extremely well. I have not seen it as a stumbling block to the side who appears via Zoom instead of in-person. In my mediations, I separate the parties, and having a party in-person in one conference room separated from a party who appears via Zoom in a separate conference room works perfectly. Also, documenting a settlement via DocuSign is an effective way to memorialize a settlement reached at a Zoom or hybrid mediation.
Why would a party elect to appear in-person instead of via Zoom? There are many reasons. Even though Zoom is easy to use, some parties prefer personal contact with the mediator. Some prefer to interact “eye to eye” instead of through a computer monitor. There are certainly more opportunities to engage in small talk with parties who appear in-person instead of via Zoom. That does not, however, prevent the party appearing via Zoom from getting their point across or achieving their best settlement.
In summary, it does not matter whether the mediation takes place in-person, via Zoom or a combination of the two. Whichever medium one chooses, the chance of reaching agreement will not be impacted. As long as the parties actively engage in the mediation process, progress will surely be made in resolving the dispute.