Bryan Coleman is committed to assisting opposing parties to reach an amicable and mutually beneficial resolution in their dispute. His years of experience in private practice, his service as an arbitrator and the fact that he has mediated thousands of disputes, has garnered him insight into assisting others to evaluate their situation from a more detached perspective, taking into consideration the arena of the dispute and the probability of external influences positively or negatively impacting protracted litigation.
There are numerous styles of mediation, some of which are facilitative, while others are more proactive and evaluative. Each client and his/her attorney should determine which style fits their particular personality and the subject dispute that will be mediated. Generally speaking, the facilitative approach requires more time, in order to permit the parties to more completely ventilate their feelings before addressing the possible solutions to the dispute. The evaluative approach tends to delve into the facts more rapidly, brainstorm solutions, and make adjustments to the solutions that have been generated in order to accomplish the resolution of the dispute. It is also important to consider whether the parties to the dispute will have continuing relations after the dispute is resolved, as opposed to non-business disputes arising from a single event or transaction. If continuing relations are important, the mediation should probably be conducted in a more facilitative manner. It is very important to advise the mediator of any cultural, religious, or unique personality characteristics of any participant, in order to avoid anyone being offended.
To facilitate this, Bryan Coleman familiarizes himself with the controversy from the perspective of each of the disputing parties, before meeting with the disputants, which is why he encourages counsel for the parties to submit position briefs detailing their client’s position. Position briefs should be submitted no less than twenty-four (24) hours before the scheduled mediation \ arbitration. In addition to position briefs, all parties are encouraged to complete a one page, fill-in-the-blank mediator information sheet, which will be provided to the parties when the mediation is scheduled. Studying the nature of the dispute before meeting with the parties provides a mediator an opportunity to evaluate the viability of specific issues relating to the claim and gives him a fundamental sense of the dispute and an insight of the parties’ positions. Experience has proven that this saves valuable time, which can be put to better use assisting the parties to resolve their differences during the mediation session.
After meeting with the parties collectively at the beginning of the dispute resolution session, Mr. Coleman separates the parties and confers with them individually to acquire a more precise understanding of their grievances. Once fully informed, he illuminates the appreciation of the parties and their assessment of their claim through questions that point out their strengths, weaknesses, and potential outcomes of trial, both from his professional perspective and the perspective of the counsel representing that party. This process can be uncomfortable for the parties, who obviously believe in the merit of their claim, but sometimes have elevated and occasionally unreasonable expectations regarding the ultimate outcome of the litigation. Once again, experience has proven that getting people to step back and look at their claim from the perspective of an impartial observer, knowledgeable in the subject matter at hand, often has a positive influence on achieving a mutually beneficial resolution of the dispute. This does not, however, involve the mediator expressing his opinion of the merits of a given argument by a party or that party’s counsel unless invited to do so.
Finally, Mr. Coleman believes that a mediator should never do harm to any party; and, even in instances where he sees obvious legal or procedural mistakes, it is his policy to not point such defects out to either party or their attorneys. Above all else, a mediator should be honest and neutral; but a mediator is not a legal counsel to any party and should not give legal advice. Only in instances where the parties and their counsel request a mediator’s proposal, when they are at impasse, does Mr. Coleman make a suggestion as to a possible compromise.