When we mediators work our “magic,” it’s because we listen and try to understand what is behind the rhetoric. What more than money would it take to get these parties to settle? Perhaps, a memorial set up at place of death, a charity to prevent or create awareness of the injury, a public declaration of a wrong, an apology, outplacement services for a plaintiff in an employment case and so forth. These are just some in a long list of creative non-monetary solutions that have been used in settling cases that are sometimes too difficult to settle with just dollars.
As the immediate past chair of the 18,000-member Dispute Resolution Section of the American Bar Association, I have had the privilege of interfacing with mediators from a wide variety of diverse geographic and cultural backgrounds. Although there are different approaches and styles throughout the world, what remains constant in our profession is the ability of the mediator to probe and understand the nature of the dispute and use his or her own creativity to bring folks to settlement with money, of course, but increasingly more often, with something more than just the money.