Town Hall Series: COVID-19 Won’t Stop Family Mediators

Part 1: Online Mediation Nuts and Bolts



Joan LeFebvre: What method of “distance” meeting format did you use? phone, FaceTime, Zoom, other?

Jennifer Northcott: I have primarily used Zoom but have also used the phone.

Karen Levitt: Some clients have not wanted to do virtual mediation due to children being home as a result of schools being closed, because of privacy concerns.

Mike Haney: Many thanks for putting this event together. It’s great to hear that existing mediations are shifting online pretty seamlessly. What are the best ways to market online-only mediation to new clients?

Jennifer Northcott: Same problem here.  Also, some that just hated video… lol- yes like the panelist has just said.

Joan LeFebvre: Yes, I had parties who preferred phone (audio) over a video option.

Mike Haney: I am finding that my corporate consulting clients are getting quite comfortable with online video conferencing, especially via Zoom.

Mike Haney: We have invested in the higher level of security for Zoom – we also do mental health counseling, so the version we have is HIPAA compliant and thus more confidential.

Mike Haney: I have also invested in making my video setup clean and professional. For example, put a separate webcam on a tripod, NOT use the one in your laptop. Amanda Singer, your video presence is quite good.

Mike Haney: Using an external microphone also helps your audio quality. For $25 or less, you can get a microphone that connects to your PC via USB cable – and it makes a huge difference.

[email protected] Could the different presenters describe the equipment they use (webcam model?  microphone model?  so that we can see the difference that different equipment makes.  For example, the current speaker’s audio sounds very tinny and I would want to avoid that.

Mike Haney: Frank I agree with you – I think that is Jim Melamed, who must be dialing in via phone.

Justin Kelsey – Mediator & Collaborative Attorney: To clarify, Jim is on speakerphone via cell through Michael’s feed, which is why he sounds tinny.

Mike Haney: I have noticed the “hunch-over” effect when people only use the webcam in their laptops. I like to use a webcam on a tripod – allows me to sit back in my chair a bit more and look more relaxed.

Collette Pelcic: Do any of you tell clients when you are “appearing” from a home office instead of work office?  How do clients respond?  It seems like most everyone has bought into the idea of working from home and don’t interpret it as unprofessionalism.

Jennifer Northcott: Sometimes I warn people that because I am at home they may hear my baby crying- but I assure everyone that there are no other listening ears in the room and ask people to verbally confirm they do not have others listening in as well as I discuss confidentiality issues… and of course I block their ability to record via Zoom

Justin Kelsey – Mediator & Collaborative Attorney:

Mary and Wally: This week there was an article in NYTimes about Zoom-bombing that has some people anxious about their Zoom sessions able to be hacked.  How can we reassure clients that their Zoom meetings are secure?

Jeff Kruse: I always let clients know I work from home and they may hear our dog bark or hear the doorbell ring.  Nobody seems to mind as long as I give them plenty of time.

Justin Kelsey – Mediator & Collaborative Attorney:

Justin Kelsey – Mediator & Collaborative Attorney:

Clare [email protected]:

[email protected]: Clare, are you using a webcam on a tripod?

Clare [email protected]: Laptop camera on a fitdesk 🙂

Clare [email protected]: Simple sample agreement: More in-depth agreement, stronger language:

[email protected]: Do any of you record your mediation sessions?

Clare [email protected]: I can’t think of a situation where I would.

Harry Manasewich: Security of the online conversations is a great concern. Any way to make it more secure (beyond the ATM)?

Jeff Kruse: I have never recorded a session.

Lisa Smith: Hi Harry – Zoom has a package that is HIPAA compliant – Business package. I think that Pro is secure – but it is not HIPAA compliant

Rachel Alexander: Please send link to Clare’s article

APFM Mediators:

Harry Manasewich: Lisa; the issue is that “hacking” can be by a party or someone “outside,” especially if someone is joining Zoom via a browser

Kim Torres: Tips to secure Zoom conference –;

Mike Haney: I have found in other Zoom conference calls that it can be helpful for me to exaggerate my facial expressions from time to time, especially when smiling – comes across as friendlier and more of a communication channel that works for all.

Jeff Kruse: Zoom has regular training webinars that explain the more complicated settings if you learn visually/with video.

Jeannie Barei: I was hoping that pre-assigning breakout rooms would also allow the host to set up so that the parties would go directly into those rooms as they enter the meeting. Ie. Start out as a shuttle. I can’t seem to find a way to do that. Any tips?

Jeff Kruse: Jeannie, I do not know how to do that for the breakout rooms, but the Zoom customer service folks have been very responsive whenever I have questions.

DT: What are some of the precautions you use against Zoom-bombing

Harry Manasewich: if chats are allowed, can mediator monitor them? Can they see if you are briefly chatting with 1 party?

Harry Manasewich: Pretty easy to just record screen with phone; Trillian is about “boards”

Mike Haney: A lavalier mike could help as well. They are as little as $10 or so.

jadamsfiske: Talk briefly about the Hawthorne Effect, that people behave differently when they know they are being watched. summary: check in with your clients instantly/

Andrew: One note that is sometimes helpful: If there are risks of someone’s internet connection being unstable, you can ask the party (or parties) to use the Zoom video and use the call-in/phone audio (instead of the computer audio). This will allow them to stay on the audio, uninterrupted, even if the video comes in and out.

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