As with almost everything else, Covid-19 has disrupted normal court proceedings. What does this mean for mediation?
Luckily for us, The Mediation Center of the Coastal Empire has continued to provide mediation services through teleconferencing. Although we were worried at first, our mediators and support staff have been successfully holding virtual mediations.
In the past five months, the Mediation Center has held mediation services virtually for members of our Savannah and Chatham county communities. Using Zoom, a teleconferencing platform, we provide virtual mediation in the same neutral, confidential, and collaborative way as we do in person.
Some may find virtual mediation even more easy and flexible than our typical in-person sessions. Parties can Zoom in from the comfort of their homes or offices (no commute!), or even driving on their way to work (although we don’t necessarily encourage that – stay safe on the roads, folks!). With the ease of no commute and mediating from the comfort of one’s own home, some of our volunteer mediators have even found that participants are more relaxed, making the overall mediation process more satisfying for all involved.
Virtual mediations are almost identical to in-person options. Rather than signing in person, we send the mediation guidelines to all the parties by email before the mediation begins and, if the parties make an agreement, sign digitally with online documentation software. Breakout rooms allow mediators to speak with parties individually, just like they would in the office. The transition has been seamless.
We don’t know when the courts will resume hearings. Jury trials and most grand jury proceedings have been prohibited since March of this year and will be on hold at least until mid-September. In the meantime, virtual mediation provides an opportunity for parties to find justice and resolution – making for one less worry during stressful times.
You can find more information about our virtual mediations on our Mediation FAQ page.