Waive party opening statements? Never!

Here’s a reason why to not allow parties to waive their opening statements: I did a mediation recently involving a partnership breakup. In pre-mediation, it appeared that the issues would concern a buy-out of the departing partner, as well as a non-compete. But in the mediation, when it was the plaintiff’s turn to give his opening, he said to his former partners across the table, “I need a job.” The partners looked at one another, then said,” We need you back.” The rest of the mediation focused on how to restore the former partner to the partnership. If I had heeded some attorneys’ advice to “skip the opening statement” this might never have happened. I’ll never let parties waive their opening statements!

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