April MtMA Newsletter

April MtMA Newsletter

Mediation in a Time of Pandemic

During these unstable and unsettled times, mediation is more important than ever. The pressures and consequences of social and economic disruption coupled with confinement and other sources of additional stress are making mediation an essential tool for people, families, organizations and businesses to navigate their struggles.

The MtMA is here to help mediators help their communities in whatever ways we can. Let us know what we can do to support you and your work.



There has been an explosion in online mediation in the wake of the pandemic, and with it many words written about the implications. Here is a sampling of some articles on the changing landscape of online mediation:


There are lots of resources out there for how to most effectively use video platforms for remote mediation. Here are a few:

We also got some great tips from our members. Thanks to Pam Poon, Chris Hahn & Jay Hunston for these suggestions:

  • Don’t try to change the background of your conferences without carefully reading their directions about it. Ideally, you should have a “green screen” behind you first, then you add the background you want from their list
  • When you send out your Zoom notice, make sure your clients, fellow attorneys, etc. have both good audio and video on their device. Some desktops need a microphone
  • Tell new users that there is no Zoom app. You will send them a link that they will click on their device. They can also call in from a phone
  • I also tell users to write down the ID number in case they have to enter it at a later time
  • If you plan to use the shared screen to call up documents, it is best to call them up BEFORE THE CALL STARTS. This is essential so you can protect other information on your screen, like your emails, other client filenames, etc. from being shared as you search for the document you plan to share
  • So far, I have done child support calculations, filled in form pleadings and drafted MOUs in share screen mode and it has all worked fine
  • Final warning: several large meetings, e.g., 30 people where the participants don’t know each other well, have been interrupted and disrupted when someone shares their screen with porn on it. Unfortunately, you can only stop others from sharing their screens in webinar mode, not meetings mode. That costs more than the meetings subscription, sad to say
  • Using two computers or other devices close together can cause audio static so keep devices a bit separate if you are simultaneously using them


Unfortunately, almost all in-person training have been cancelled for the foreseeable future, but our members had some suggestions for how mediators can keep up their training and get in their continuing education hours:

  • National associations have frequent webinars
  • Reading counts as education. Rad books and follow blogs from well known mediators–Tammy Lenski, Bill Eddy, and others
  • Many non-mediation jobs provide training that is applicable to mediation, so look into those opportunities
  • Montana Legal Services has a series of free webinars
  • Whether your mediation specialty is divorce, elder, construction or workplace, there are conferences, books and videos available
  • And a great suggestion from one member “Keep track of your mediation and training hours. I have an Excel sheet where I have recorded every mediation and training hour since 2007. That makes it easy when reporting hours or applying for advanced practitioner status from the national organizations”

The MtMA regularly sends out information about mediation-related training through this newsletter, our website and our Facebook page. We are also working on arranging trainings to help members satisfy their continuing education requirements. If you know of any educational opportunities you would like us to share – or you have any requests for specific training – please email Pat at: mtmediation@mtmediation.org


Anna Williams (formerly Bidegaray) is a third generation Montana lawyer. She has practiced law for over 25 years. As a Montana native, Anna attended Hellgate High School in Missoula. She left Montana to attend Wellesley College, Johannes Gutenberg University in Mainz, Germany, and University of Washington. She graduated from the University of Washington in 1991, with a B.A. in Political Science and German.  In 1994, she graduated Cum Laude from the University of Montana School of Law. In law school, Anna was a member of the National Moot Court team and the Order of Barristers.

Anna began her legal career as a law clerk at the Montana Workers’ Compensation Court under Judge Mike McCarter. She then worked in several small law firms in Sidney, Montana as a general practitioner. In 2000, she and her family moved to Bozeman, Montana. In Bozeman, Anna continued her litigation practice at Bidegaray Law Firm, LLP and later Tarlow & Stonecipher, PLLC. Over the last 24 years Anna has represented people who have been injured and people with disputes against insurance companies. Anna has also represented injured workers seeking workers’ compensation benefits. At this point in her career, Anna primarily practices family law and mediates cases.

(Interested in being profiled as a featured mediator? Contact Connie Anderson Herbst at mtmediation@mtmediation.org)


We have been steadily ramping up our social media activity in recent months, so be sure to like the MtMA Facebook page in order to stay in the loop with all of the latest Montana mediation happenings.


MtMA members and the general public are welcome to attend all MtMA board meetings, which occur via video call monthly, and in person quarterly. We are always happy to meet folks, answer questions, and tell you anything you’d like to know about the MtMA.

If you are interested in attending our next board meeting, please reach out to memberservices@mtmediation.org for details on how to participate.


We are here to serve mediators and mediation in Montana, so if you have any thoughts, suggestions, questions, needs or feedback about how we can do our work better, we are all ears! You can always reach us via email or over the phone: 406-579-2371