Mediation has become the preferred method of resolving disputes for many litigators in the United States. Typically, prior to the commencement of a mediation, the mediator will speak with counsel for each party, usually by telephone, and may receive a written brief from each counsel describing the status of the case. The formal mediation then begins with a joint session in which the parties and their counsel meet with the mediator, and in which the lawyers make opening statements. Then the mediator caucuses with the parties separately. These initial caucuses are usually an opportunity for the parties to tell their story to the mediator, and for the mediator to develop a level of trust with the parties. This process results in each party spending a substantial amount of time waiting after the joint session while the mediator meets with the other party. Typically, after the initial caucuses, the time of each caucus is reduced as the mediator is then engaged in generating offers and counteroffers from each party.
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