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Guided Choice Mediation – A Better Way To Settle Disputes

September 10, 2019

Despite training by some of the best mediation educators over the last 20 years, it was only fairly recently that I became aware of the name given to the mediation process known as “Guided Choice.” Championed most notably by Paul M. Lurie, Guided Choice Mediation is really a thoughtful organization and bundling of certain practices that together lead to better mediation results. Without an awareness that these concepts had a name, I had through experience gravitated to many of them in my mediation approach. However, it was only upon finding the Guided Choice website and related publications and programs that all the pieces fit together.

Most lawyers and most mediators approach mediation as an event – a one-time meeting of the parties, their lawyers and the mediator at which the mediator facilitates a settlement discussion. More often than not, the parties and their lawyers expect the mediator to listen to their stories and shuttle between the two camps in private “caucuses,” carrying settlement offers and counteroffers. While this process can be productive, it fails to realize the potential that mediation holds for achieving a settlement.

Guided Choice substantially expands the mediator’s role to that of a full partner with both parties in getting to the heart of their dispute and the most efficient route to its resolution. It empowers the mediator to work closely with both parties’ counsel well before any mediation session is scheduled, and to guide the parties along the path to settlement. I recommend the more complete description of Guided Choice and related resources available on the Guided Choice website. The key elements of this approach to early dispute resolution are:

  • The parties embrace an obligation to mediate
  • The mediator is retained as early as possible
  • The mediator conducts a confidential investigation and diagnosis of the dispute
  • The parties exchange key information identified by the mediator
  • The mediator helps design a customized settlement process to anticipate and overcome impasse
  • The mediator continues to work with the parties even if negotiations are suspended
  • The mediator helps the parties design a customized arbitration process to resolve disputes that do not settle

Parties in conflict and those drafting dispute resolution provisions in their contracts would do well to consider Guided Choice.

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