How long should mediation take?

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How Long?

How long should mediation take?

We have grown used to life happening instantaneously. What we forget is that despite all the fast and furious technology, we remain human beings. We may be more sophisticated overall, but are otherwise no different than we were thousands of years ago. Our thought processes and decision-making ability have not evolved along with technology and to expect otherwise is to set ourselves up for disappointment, if not failure.

Too many people approach mediation as a finite process, allowing only two or three hours, with the expectation that the dispute will either be resolved or it won’t, but the process will be complete. Sometimes they are correct, but in most cases, this is a mistake that dooms the process to failure. Regardless of the dispute involved, mediation is a personal process that needs to occur in human time. Without exception, at least one of the participants in the mediation will have some very personal issues to confront and assess in making the decisions asked of them. Because the point of mediation is “resolution” rather than merely “settlement”, it is unfair and often impossible to rush this.

It is always best to have an open-ended amount of time available when scheduling mediation, in order to allow for the possibility of prolonged discussions. If you are unable, for whatever reason, to give the process this time in a single session, let me, as your mediator, know at the outset, and allow for the possibility of further discussions in the future.

Allowing people the ability to process information in their own time, whether at the mediation session or subsequent sessions, will lead to greater contentment in resolution and a greater likelihood of finality to the dispute involved.

Ken Strongman, MediatorAbout the Author: Ken Strongman ( has years of experience and a growing national reputation as a mediator and arbitrator.  He has successfully resolved more than a thousand disputes in the fields of construction defects, real estate, intellectual property, and employment.  He is also a Mediator and Arbitrator for FINRA.

© 2020 Ken Strongman. All Rights Reserved. Please do not copy or repost without permission.


One response to “How long should mediation take?”

  1. Michael Carbone Avatar

    I endorse everything that Ken says. However, I have resolved to give up the all-nighters. A “day” should mean just that. Parties should agree to spend a reasonable amount of time trying to settle, but not unlimited.