Tandem mediation is a new concept developed by Linda Allan, Esquire, and Wendy Coughlin, Ph.D. As the name suggests, it involves two mediators working simultaneously with the parties to resolve the issues presented. It is designed for a team of one attorney-mediator and one mental health mediator.
At its inception, tandem mediation begins with each side presenting a list of critical issues and concerns submitted before the start of mediation. The mediation process will begin with all parties and both mediators in a conference room (physical, virtual, or hybrid) to review and prioritize the lists of issues and concerns. After the initial joint meeting, the parties will move to separate rooms with a mediator to discuss options and alternatives for resolving the issues presented. After approximately 30 minutes, the mediators will caucus to develop a strategy for the remainder of the mediation process. Next, the mediators will switch rooms to share the plan and begin working to help the parties reach a settlement.
Tandem mediation is a fluid process requiring ongoing communication between the mediators to determine when the mediators must meet to record generated agreements. Mediator caucusing is intentionally brief and designed to update each side’s shifting needs and offers. When issues are resolved, the attorney mediator will write up the settlement agreement, and the mental health mediator will meet with all parties and attorneys to discuss transitioning from their conflicted positions to cooperative engagement as needed. At this point, the mental health expert will discuss co-parenting strategies in family law cases.
This process is best suited for individuals or businesses and attorneys who do not want to go to trial and want to maximize the possibility of settlement. The hourly rate may be slightly higher, but the service is greater. There is a minimal lag when the parties are not actively resolving their issues. The attorney mediator has the expertise to write the settlement agreement, and the mental health mediator is available to address emotional roadblocks which often inhibit settlement.
Linda Allan, a licensed attorney, will write the settlement agreement. She served as a Circuit Court Judge for 20 years until her retirement in 2022. She presided over Civil, Family, Probate, and Criminal Divisions cases. Before becoming a judge, she owned and managed a law firm employing six attorneys. She was rated “AV” by Martindale-Hubbell. She has tried hundreds of jury and non-jury trials as an attorney and as a judge. In this phase of her career, she seeks to use her abundant knowledge and skill set to empower individuals, families, and businesses to come to a peaceful settlement through mediation.
A licensed mental health counselor, Wendy Coughlin, will help the parties develop options and move from conflict to resolution. Dr. Coughlin has worked in private practice in Pinellas County since 1986. She is a Florida State Certified Family Mediator, a Qualified Parenting Coordinator, a Certified Guardian ad Litem, and a substance use disorder specialist. Dr. Coughlin is committed to helping resolve differences by recognizing the extraordinary toll conflict takes on everyone.
Two are better than one – as a tandem team, Ms. Allan and Dr. Coughlin use one another’s resources and varying perspectives to leave no stone unturned in finding options for settlement. Their commitment to this process reflects their desire to provide for optimal resolution. For information, please get in touch with Linda Allan at 727-685-9885 or email her at [email protected]. Dr. Coughlin may be reached at 727-532-1997 or by email at [email protected].