Mediation & Alternative Dispute Resolution
Although mediation is only one form of Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR), that term is commonly used (in Maine, at least) to refer to all forms of ADR.
My law practice convinced me of the benefits of mediation (and other forms of ADR) over litigation, and much of my recent work has been focused in this area. In addition to having participated in numerous mediations during the course of my legal career, I have completed basic and advanced training in many types of ADR.
At present, I serve on a number of rosters of the Court Alternative Dispute Resolution Service (CADRES) of the Maine Judicial Branch for both District Court and Superior Court matters. I have also qualified to help resolve securities-related matters as a Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) arbitrator and mediator.
For many years, the focus of my law practice was family law and probate matters, and as a Certified Financial Planner™ practitioner, I have gained a deep understanding of how families and finances are often interwoven. Mediation of family law and probate matters remain particular interests of mine.
Among the ADR services I offer are:
- Mediation. The hallmark of mediation is that any agreement is voluntary and the process is non-public. I am able to offer mediation using the following approaches: facilitative, evaluative, and transformative.
Often the choice of which form of ADR — or which style of mediation — to pursue can be of critical importance, and is a topic with which I am pleased to assist potential ADR clients.
That said, my natural bias is to help parties resolve the issues presented and to offer suggestions and solutions for the parties to consider when they get “stuck.”
- Early Neutral Evaluation. ENE involves each side presenting its best case, with the neutral then stating his/her prediction of the outcome (or offering a range of predicted outcomes). This is a brief, inexpensive process by which parties can obtain an unbiased opinion about the strengths and weaknesses of their case and its likely outcome. On occasion, before offering an opinion, the neutral may be asked by the parties to facilitate settlement discussions.
- Mediation-Arbitration. When appropriate, I am willing to consider accepting cases on a mediation-arbitration approach (often called “med-arb”). In this style of ADR, where requested by the parties at the outset, I will decide any issues on which the parties are unable to reach agreement.
- Reference. Not truly a form of ADR, but often a method for resolving disputes preferable to litigation in the courts. The “referee” (also called a “special master” in some states) is a sort of “private judge” who will actually make any decisions needed. The decisions of the Referee have the same legal force and effect as if the case were decided in court by a judge.
Fees for ADR services are typically shared by the participants and are on a sliding scale (from $100 – $250 per hour). Where possible (for example, if a single session is contemplated), a project fee may be quoted.
When attorneys refer a matter to me for mediation, I typically do not require a retainer, but ask for documents in advance, send a proposed Mediation Agreement, and request a conference call with counsel prior to the actual session.
When parties contact me directly, my process for private mediation work is:
- One participant contacts me (usually via email) and we schedule a 10- 20 minute phone call. Based on the call, if that participant thinks I would be acceptable as mediator, then . . .
- A call is scheduled with the other participant, again about 10-20 minutes. If the other participant thinks I would be acceptable as mediator, then . . .
- I make a decision if I think I can help with the issues identified. If not, I will suggest other mediators I know. If I think I could help resolve the issues identified, then . . .
- A written proposal is prepared by me and sent to both (or all) participants, preferably via email but snail-mail works too. Assuming the terms are acceptable, then . . .
- Each party signs a copy and returns it to me (via email or snail mail).
- A deposit of $250 – $500 is paid (advanced by one party or shared on some basis by the parties).
- We “negotiate” (usually via email with both participants) a date, time, and place for the initial session. My preference is for the parties to be available for up to three (3) hours for the initial session. [We may not need all that time, but if the session is productive, I do not want to see it cut short.]
I am happy to answer any questions about the process or to consider suggestions for proceeding in a different fashion.