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Feedback digest Mediator: Edna Sussman Reviewer: AAA/ICDR Staff [email protected] Last Update: July 15, 2014 This Feedback Digest has been updated to include 16 Feedbacks in 16 Mediations as of July 15, 2014. Parties and counsel who have used Edna Sussman would overwhelmingly use her services again and would, without hesitation, recommend her to others. Typical of the comments reflecting Ms. Sussman’s acceptability are: (i) Ms. Sussman conducted herself at the highest professional standard and encouraged the parties toward civil discussions. This created an environment that facilitated a one-day resolution; (ii) Ms. Sussman developed a good rapport with both parties and succeeded in making both parties feel understood and their views of the case valued. She obviously understood the complex legal issues as well as sensitive non-legal issues and she was able to work effectively with the parties to arrive at a resolution of the dispute; (iii) Both sides appreciated Ms. Sussman so much that in the settlement agreement we specifically identified her as the mediator for any future disputes that should arise. Ms. Sussman is clearly a very able and skilled mediator and attorney; (iv) Ms. Sussman is thorough and attentive, practical and effective. We have already recommended her as a mediator to others; (v) Ms. Sussman took a situation that appeared irreconcilable, and through several months of continuous and arduous negotiation, brought the matter to a successful close. She was intelligent and pragmatic, persistent without offending or taking offense. I cannot say enough good things about her; (vi) I have already recommended Ms. Sussman to my colleagues; (vii) Edna mediated a highly complex commercial dispute – complex not only because of the legal issues involved and the complex technology at issue in this case, but also because of the personalities of the main players (particularly on one side of the case). The dispute also involved a start-up technology company at a very sensitive point of its existence. Edna appreciated these issues and drove the parties to a resolution. She did this in a highly non-contentious way, even when it might have appeared to the lawyers that the parties did not have an appetite for a resolution that was obviously in both of their best interests. At particularly sensitive points, she remained both calm and insistent – and focused on the prize available to each side at the end of the day. She was firm at various points and made her views known. But the manner in which she did so let each side actually hear what she said rather than getting confused by all of the emotion. She was also excellent at following through as the resolution process continued following the mediation session itself. She was there, but did not try to take over the process in a way that would have been unhelpful. Excellent and balanced follow-through; (viii) Edna is a tenacious settlement artist. I don’t know of another mediator who could have obtained a settlement in the matter for which we retained her; (ix) Edna was able to build a relationship of trust with the parties; and (x) Ms. Sussman has been patient with both sets of parties. She has been empathetic with the law firm’s attorneys and the situation overall, and has demonstrated a firm grasp of the underlying facts and issues. Ms. Sussman has been able to review and absorb a great deal of information, efficiently and well, and assist the parties in better understanding contrary positions. She is also efficient in her oral and written communications, and does not waste time. While the Mediation is still ongoing, there is great faith in Ms. Sussman’s ability to reach closure concerning the parties’ dispute – and sometimes that kind of faith drives the parties to closure. Ms. Sussman’s mediation skills and abilities are rated as highly effective. Typical of feedback received in this regard are: (i) Ms. Sussman had the ability to identify and focus the parties' attention on the strengths and weaknesses of their respective arguments, which made a decisive difference. This helped bring the mediation to a swift conclusion; (ii) Among other things, Ms. Sussman worked effectively to ensure that hostility based on the parties’ prior relationship did not defeat the progress of the mediation. She also demonstrated her mediation skills when overseeing the parties’ exchange of confidential documents prior to the active mediation; (iii) In an extremely difficult mediation in which both parties thought their respective cases were strong enough to prevail at trial, Ms. Sussman was able to get both parties to accept a resolution despite this initial attitude. At the end, both parties felt that they had reached an excellent resolution; (iv) Ms. Sussman is remarkably effective, especially in getting results from a difficult adversary. She has tenacity, for sure. When the parties and/or counsel suggested putting the matter aside for even just days, Ms. Sussman insisted that we resolve items immediately, which, in retrospect, was very wise. Also, she has a gift for seeing past smoke and mirrors; (v) She had a pleasant and intelligent persistence. Being that this was a dispute between current business partners, Ms. Sussman's ability to give us a genuine sense of the adversary's perspective was not only invaluable for the issues at hand, but also for the relationship that would follow; (vi) She was very effective in getting the parties to reach settlement; (vii) She showed empathy, common sense, avoided getting bogged down in the minutia of legal arguments, and was very practical; (viii) Ms. Sussman’s realistic evaluation of facts and direct communication made a decisive difference in the outcome; (ix) Edna had the ability to bring the other side back to reality when they strayed from the business negotiations that we entered into the mediation to complete; and (x) The particular skills that made Edna so valuable in this case were: the ability to get the parties to focus, the ability to let the parties speak and to listen to what the parties were saying, and (maybe most importantly) the ability to get the parties to REFOCUS after all of the talking had been done and the emotion had been spent. In a word: patience; (xi) Two critical skills were the ability to create a relationship of trust with parties that were initially reluctant about the mediation process. This helped build legitimacy. Also, Edna was able to encourage the sharing of key information at the right time; and (xii) Ms. Sussman presents in a calm and understanding manner. She does not rush through calls or meetings, and we have had (and have appreciated) her full attention whether meeting in person or speaking by phone. She has continued to be available to assist the parties with a possible resolution of the dispute for a prolonged period of time. I know our law firm appreciates that, and we presume the other side does as well. Ms. Sussman’s own commitment to a resolution of the matter has had some impact with respect to the parties’ own belief the matter can be resolved without litigation. Ms. Sussman is realistic and practical, and has talked through sensible ways to approach a resolution of the parties’ dispute (always useful in a lawyer and especially so in a Mediator). As noted, in our meetings and calls, she is mindful of everyone’s time and communicates clearly and efficiently. She also absorbs information “from the air” during the Mediation process concerning the parties’ emotional frame of time, which has been helpful in evaluating next steps along the settlement road. Ms. Sussman is also highly regarded for her ability to effect a positive outcome. It has been noted that: (i) Ms. Sussman's overall approach to this mediation was very effective. In particular, she continually provided the parties with creative solutions to problems, which if not resolved, would have led to an impasse; (ii) It was Ms. Sussman’s refusal to allow the process to be short circuited that made a difference. By strictly following the ADR process she allowed the client time to focus on the real issues and find that settlement was in his best interest. In another matter, it was also noted that it was very important for the client to show to its Board of Directors that it did its best to resolve the case. Two directors actually participated in the mediation itself, and so it was important that the mediation and the mediator were impressive. This goal was accomplished by Edna, separate and apart from reaching a resolution; (iii) The dynamic between parties required a mediator who could project authority, be rigorously impartial (and be perceived as such), emotionally perceptive, and cost-effective. The process was the most difficult settlement that I have been involved with as an attorney, and was quite painful and time-consuming, for reasons outside of the mediator’s control. The real testament to Edna’s work is that the underlying dispute has not resurfaced in the intervening months. Costs were widely reported as reasonable in the context of the value of the disputes mediated by Ms. Sussman, and in general a very high degree of satisfaction was reported. No reportable negative comments have been received since Ms. Sussman’s designation as an IMI Certified Mediator.
This feedback digest was last updated 15 July 2014.
This feedback digest was last updated 15 July 2014.