Consider the following two scenarios. Tom Jones sued his neighbor over a dispute they had regarding the boundaries of their abutting properties. Within a week of filing the suit, he received notice that a mediation had been scheduled for their case. Three weeks later he arrived at the appointed place and time of the mediation where he found his neighbor, his neighbor's attorney, and a mediator. After brief introductions, they were invited to take their seats and were provided a short overview of mediation, a process that was new and unfamiliar to Tom Jones. Two hours later, he left in frustration. In another case, a probate judge ordered two sisters, Rose and Anne, to mediate their dispute over an inheritance. During mediation, their conversations often became heated and the mediator struggled to assist them in productively addressing their differences. After provocation by Anne, Rose started to cry and left the room, the mediation ended without an agreement. These two scenarios share a common denominator, they demonstrate a lack of preparation. Tom lacked familiarity with the mediation process, while Rose and Anne had not been forewarned of the potentially jarring interactions sometimes endemic to mediation. These situations are commonplace. This article addresses parties' mediation preparedness, or more precisely unpreparedness.



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