I recommend pre-mediation calls with the mediator. Each mediator's style is different; In my cases, we pre-set calls in advance of the mediation; it is helpful to receive briefs before that call, but it is still useful even without briefs. The pre-mediation conference (“PMC”) is a good opportunity to speak with the attorneys outside the presence of their client, for the attorney to share strengths & weaknesses, obstacles to settlement, client challenges; presence of proper people with authority; presence of insurance and limiting issues such as non-coverage (e.g. wage & hour in EPLI policies etc); reservation of rights. I like to also use the PMCs to pose questions that arise from my review of the briefs, so they can be better prepared to address them at mediation. The more you can share with the mediator, the better they can help you. If your mediator does not do any pre-mediation communication as a practice, there is no reason you can't initiate it.