Although “mediation” technically refers to only one specific form of Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR), it is commonly used (in Maine, at least) to refer to all types of ADR.
My law practice convinced me of the benefits of mediation over litigation. 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 and areas of ADR.
I have qualified for a number of rosters of the Court Alternative Dispute Resolution Service (CADRES) of the Maine Judicial Branch. At present, in addition to my own active private mediation and dispute resolution practice, I regularly serve as a court mediator in both District Court and Superior Court matters. Also, I have also been qualified by the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) to help resolve securities-related disputes, both as mediator and as an arbitration panel member.
The ADR services I offer are:
- Mediation. The hallmark of mediation is that any agreement is voluntary and the process is non-public.
My approach is settlement-oriented. My interest is in helping 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.
- Other ADR Services.
- Early Neutral Evaluation. This form of ADR involves each side presenting its best case, with the neutral predicting the outcome (or offering a range of predicted outcomes). Like mediation, this is a process for parties to obtain an unbiased opinion about the strengths and weaknesses of their respective positions and the likely outcome of the case. On occasion, before offering an opinion, the neutral may be asked by the parties to facilitate settlement discussions.
- Mediation-Arbitration. A mediation-arbitration approach (often called “med-arb”), is where the parties request at the outset that the neutral decide any issues on which the parties are unable to reach agreement.
- Reference. On a case-by- case basis, I am willing to consider undertaking the reference of a dispute under the Maine Rules of Civil Procedure. The “referee” (also called a “special master” in some states) is a sort of “private judge” who, after hearing from the parties, will actually make all decisions required. The decisions of a 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). On occasion, the fee capped or 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:
- 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…
- A call is scheduled with the other participant. If the other participant thinks I would be acceptable as mediator, then…
- 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…
- A Mediation Agreement is sent to both (or all) participants. Assuming the terms are acceptable, then…
- Each party signs a copy and returns it to me (via email or snail mail).
- The requested deposit 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.