The Critical Importance of Pre-Session Preparation in Mediation

6 Pages Posted: 19 Dec 2022 Last revised: 30 Nov 2023

See all articles by John Lande

John Lande

University of Missouri School of Law

Date Written: December 19, 2022


It’s indisputable that preparation before mediation sessions is very important – both for the participants and the mediators. This can make a huge difference in the process and outcome. In mediation, parties and their lawyers, if any, need to be prepared to discuss the facts, law, interests, and/or negotiation approaches etc. This is hard enough when they are well prepared. It is so much harder when they are not. By the same token, mediators can perform much better when they prepare before mediation sessions.

There are too many variations in mediation for any theoretical model to provide realistic expectations and guidance for parties. Instead, mediation programs and mediators should do whatever they reasonably can before the first mediation session in each case to make the process as productive as possible.

This article discusses three issues. First, why pre-session preparation is so important. Second, why we should use the term “pre-session” instead of “pre-mediation.” Third, why faculty and trainers teaching mediation should cover pre-session preparation – even though it’s hard to fit into the limited time they have to teach mediation.

This article relies of Roselle Wissler and Art Hinshaw’s article, What Happens Before the First Mediation Session? An Empirical Study of Pre-Session Communications, and my forthcoming article, Real Mediation Systems to Help Parties and Mediators Achieve Their Goals.

Keywords: mediation, pre-session activity, preparation

Suggested Citation

Lande, John, The Critical Importance of Pre-Session Preparation in Mediation (December 19, 2022). University of Missouri School of Law Legal Studies Research Paper No. 2022-15, Available at SSRN:

John Lande (Contact Author)

University of Missouri School of Law ( email )

Hulston Hall
Columbia, MO 65211
United States

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