Using two mediators, generally referred to as the “co-mediation,” is fairly common in community mediation organizations, but less common in commercial cases. Using two mediators in a commercial case is more likely an option in larger value cases that justify the cost of hiring two mediators, but if all parties can agree to use that approach, it can provide a real boost to the process.
There are certain specific uses of co-mediation, such as multi-party cases, where the co-mediators can deal with more than one party at a time, or cases calling for multiple areas of expertise. But the primary advantage is much simpler: two mediators can generate twice the number of ideas and approaches for getting past an impasse. In complex cases you typically put together a team of lawyers, in part to bring the necessary brain power to deal with a challenging situation. Mediations, while shorter in duration, can nonetheless post challenging problems for the mediator, and with the right pairing, two can be a stronger force than one.
I have personally done a handful of co-mediations, and found it to be a very powerful tool because there were two minds observing the parties, two minds listening to what was being said, and two minds searching for ways to move forward.
If you’ve got a thorny case where settlement would be very beneficial, but you think the odds are against it happening, perhaps that would be the time to consider using a co-mediation approach. Here’s an article if you are interested in exploring this further: