I stand apart from the rest
Either way, you need that direct communication so that messages are delivered clearly. In case there are follow-up questions, the people who know the answers best can respond. Also, the mediator never knows as clearly as the lawyer what is supposed to be confidential and what can be shared. You can maintain the distinction better than if you just send the mediator down the hall to deliver a message.
From my professors, I learned, and still believe, that force, in the common sense of the word, doesn’t work. The only force that works well in mediation is the force of logic. In high-end cases, top-flight attorneys and their sophisticated clients are bully-proof. You can’t scare them into settling. So it’s not so much a matter of forcing cases to settle as letting them settle. The people who come to my mediations are not stupid. They’re smart and successful. They’ll make the right decisions, given the chance.
When my kids were small, their mother and I made all decisions and controlled everything. As they grew older, their mother and I gradually withdrew so they could create their own lives. So it is in the mediation. In the beginning, the mediator occupies all space. The mediator then withdraws, allowing the lawyers to do their thing. Then the lawyers have to withdraw somewhat as well, allowing the clients to make their own decisions as to whether to settle on the best available terms, those the lawyer has been able to bring the clients as the result of negotiations which have taken place in the mediation. The mediator engineers the process. So yes, sometimes, we ask tough questions and present tough choices — more as agents of reality than anything else, and very often supporting the good advice lawyers are giving their clients. That’s a far cry from bullying and leaving clients thinking that the mediator just thinks about settlement for settlement’s sake.