Mediation & Alternative Dispute Resolution

mediationAlthough 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 my current practice is heavily 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, in addition to my own private mediation and dispute resolution practice, I have qualified to serve as a court mediator in both District Court and Superior Court matters, having qualified for a number of rosters of the Court Alternative Dispute Resolution Service (CADRES) of the Maine Judicial Branch. Also, I have also been qualified by the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) to help resolve securities-related disputes as mediator or
arbitration panel member.

For many years, my law practice was concentrated on family law and probate matters. As a Certified Financial Planner™ practitioner, I have gained a deep understanding of how families and finances are often interwoven.

Mediation of family law, probate matters, and matters involving the intersection of families (or relationships) and money remain particular interests of mine.

The ADR services I offer are:

  1. Mediation. The hallmark of mediation is that any agreement is voluntary and the process is non-public.

    My approach is settlement-oriented mediation. 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.”
    While there are exceptions, in almost every case, avoiding a contested court hearing is desirable. In the family law area especially, it is my belief that families often never recover from the toll a trial takes.
  2. Other ADR Services.
    1. Early Neutral Evaluation. This form of ADR 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). It 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.
    2. 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.
    3. Reference. On a case-by-case basis, I am willing to consider undertaking the reference of a dispute. Not truly a form of ADR, 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 $150 – $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. I do, however, send a proposed Mediation Agreement, request documents in advance, and invite counsel to have a conference call prior to the actual session.

When parties contact me directly, my process for a private mediation is:

  1. One participant contacts me (usually via email) and we schedule a phone call. Based on the call, if that participant thinks I would be acceptable as mediator, then . . .
  2. A call is scheduled with the other participant. If the other participant thinks I would be acceptable as mediator, then . . .
  3. I decide if I think I can help with the issues identified. If not, I will suggest other mediators. If I think I can be helpful, then . . .
  4. A Mediation Agreement is sent to both (or all) participants. Assuming the terms are acceptable, then . . .
    1. Each party signs a copy and returns it to me (via email or snail mail).
    2. The requested deposit is paid (advanced by one party or shared on some basis by the parties).
    3. 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.