The Forceful Mediator

Is the forceful mediator effective? I recently read an article that included the following invective:

There are a few self-styled elite mediators who work in New York City and claim success through forcefulness, their ability to whup good lawyers into submission. They are mainly retired judges who rely on their high status, rather than mediation skills, to generate work. Since this forcefulness is claimed to be effective, we must ask: Does it really work? (emphasis added) Kichaven, J. (2017, February). The Myth Of The Forceful Mediator. Retrieved February 20, 2017, from

Hey, don’t pick on judges! However, I agree with the author that the forceful mediator, especially the ex-judge using force, “judicial intimidation” and the like are less effective. That is why I have tried from the outset of my mediation career to NOT act like the judge in the mediation. I’m sure I have failed on occasion, such as the time I made the husband in a marital case cry — I was suggesting counseling to attempt reconciliation, and by the way, they are still married. But that was a special case. Usually, the forceful mediator will be less effective.

If we believe that we, as mediators, are the “neutral” then we should act that way. Taking a forceful approach can easily result in the mediator become non-neutral. I am very willing to let someone know my opinion if I think they are seeking a crazy position, or to pull a lawyer aside and talk about the law if I think he is way off base — but even those detours can be done short of taking a forceful approach. Just provide the information.

What do you, the litigators, clients and other mediators who might read this, think? Is the forceful mediator effective?

Thanks for stopping. Don't be a drive-by, leave a comment.