For information about Dana Curtis’ availability and to schedule a mediation, contact her office at or call 415.331.5158.  Once a mediation is scheduled, Ms. Curtis will send counsel a letter confirming the mediation, scheduling a pre-mediation telephone conference and requesting a Deposit of Estimated Fees required to reserve the mediation date. She will also send a Mediation and Confidentiality Agreement, which she will ask counsel and the parties to sign and return to her.


Because Ms. Curtis approaches each case individually, she consults with counsel in a joint telephone conference or separately in private calls, or both, in advance of each mediation.  The purpose of these calls is to address logistical details and to gather information about the case that will allow her to tailor the mediation to the needs of the parties and enhance the possibility of resolution.  These conversations also enable counsel to be better prepared for the mediation and to prepare their clients more effectively.  Typical pre-mediation discussions include:

  1. Factual and procedural background of the dispute;

  2. The legal issues;

  3. The settlement history;

  4. The needs of the lawyers for advance information essential to settle the case at the mediation;

  5. Information about the participants, including the nature and quality of their relationship, their experience and comfort level with mediation and their goals for the mediation;

  6. The lawyers’ suggestions about the format for the mediation, including discussions about the subject matter and role of the parties in any joint sessions;

  7. Fees;

  8. Suggestions for preparing clients for mediation; and

  9. Any additional information the lawyers think would be helpful to Ms. Curtis’ in planning and preparing for the mediation.

At the conclusion of the pre-mediation telephone call(s), Ms. Curtis and the attorneys will have outlined the format of the mediation and, where appropriate, a plan for further pre-mediation preparation.


With a few exceptions, counsel submit mediation statements, generally one week before mediation.  They usually exchange mediation statements, although in special circumstances they may decide to submit them privately to the mediator or supplement the statements they exchange with confidential statements to the mediator.

Mediation statements commonly include discussions of the following topics:

  1. The factual basis of the conflict;

  2. The legal issues and arguments;

  3. An analysis of damages, where appropriate;

  4. The interests of both parties; and

  5. Obstacles to settlement and suggestions for overcoming them;


Mediation sessions proceed according to the plan agreed upon by counsel and Ms. Curtis in the pre-mediation discussions.  In a typical case, the mediation begins with a joint session, sometimes simply for the purpose introducing the participants and the mediator.  In other cases, the participants stay together beyond the introductions to exchange their perspectives on the dispute and any information they believe would contribute to the successful resolution of the dispute.  In cases where the parties’ business or personal relationship is integral to the dispute, the participants often utilize the joint session to enable them to understand each other’s point of view about the situation, the impact it has had on them and as their underlying interests and potential solutions to address them. 

It may be the case that in the pre-mediation conference, counsel and Ms. Curtis decide not to convene a joint session.  If so, they generally reserve the possibility of joint session for a point in the mediation when it would be constructive to meet together and the parties are comfortable in doing so.

In most if not all mediations, at some point participants choose to separate and have private, confidential discussions with Ms. Curtis. Occasionally, the entire mediation is conducted in separate sessions, but more commonly private conferences follow the initial joint session.  Separate sessions may be useful to accomplish the following purposes:

To share sensitive information about the case or their perspectives with the mediator that they did not feel comfortable disclosing to the other participants;

  1. To seek assistance from the mediator in communicating information to the other participants that they did not communicate in the joint session, in which case Ms. Curtis may help a participant prepare to deliver the information directly to the other participants, or participants may choose for her to do so on their behalf;

  2. To help them develop and analyze proposals and create a negotiation plan;

  3. To explore creative ideas for resolving the dispute;

  4. To encourage participants to reflect on and re-examine their perspectives on the dispute; and

  5. To conduct a methodical case analysis that incorporates not only their own opinions but also information about the other participants’ perspectives and that of the mediator.

If a mediation session does not conclude with an agreement, participants will discuss the obstacles to settlement and explore future opportunities for resuming discussion, whether in another mediation session or with Ms. Curtis in telephone follow-up conferences.


Because Ms. Curtis sees follow-up as an indispensable phase of mediation, Ms. Curtis follows up with the lawyers after every mediation session.  In cases that resolve in the mediation, she will check in to see how documentation of the settlement is progressing and to get feedback about the mediation process.

In cases that do not resolve, Ms. Curtis will follow up in a manner agreed at the mediation.  Where there is not a future negotiation plan, she will call the lawyers from time to time in search of a way to resolve the dispute.  In short, she does not give up.