Christine L. Marinello and Kristen Sloan Maccini just opened the doors to their newly outfitted North Kingstown office when COVID-19 hit. Suddenly, the conflict resolution the two longtime attorneys and mediators planned to offer through Key Mediation LLC was no longer possible – at least not in the traditional, in-person sense.
But the need for non-court alternatives to mediate civil disputes remained, and even grew as the pandemic exacerbated family law, employment and contract disputes. So the pair of professional problem-solvers turned their attention to solving the problem of how to orchestrate remote mediation, offering their services via phone and videoconferencing.
Supervising a mediation session via Zoom comes with its own set of challenges – it’s much harder to keep clients engaged, and a technology snafu can sink an entire session, Sloan Maccini said.
But principles of effective mediation still hold true in the virtual world, listening chief among them. Whether in-person or through a screen, a mediator with a listening ear can not only resolve a conflict but also help preserve relationships, Marinello said.
The pair plan to continue virtual sessions, as well as resuming in-person mediation moving forward.
Nancy Lavin is a PBN staff writer. Contact her at Lavin@PBN.com.
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