Mediation & Alternative Dispute Resolution

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mediationAlthough “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.

With my background as a Certified Financial Planner, I am particularly interested in mediations that involve the intersection of families and finances. Many of these cases are, of course, divorces or family matters (or cases with unmarried partners that feel like divorces). In addition, mediation of probate and estate matters, situations involving family businesses, and helping to resolve disputes relating to co-ownership or usage of “family camps” are all matters of special interest to me.

I have qualified for — and currently serve on — a number of rosters of the Court Alternative Dispute Resolution Service (CADRES) of the Maine Judicial Branch, and regularly work as a court mediator in both District Court and Superior Court matters. In February 2018, I was appointed as one of nine members to the state-wide Maine Supreme Judicial Court’s CADRES Committee. In addition, I have been qualified by the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) to help resolve securities-related disputes, both as mediator and as an arbitration panel member. Finally, I have an active private mediation and dispute resolution practice.

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. 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.
  2. Other ADR Services. On a case-by-case basis, I will consider other ADR services, such as:
    1. 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.
    2. 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.

My preference is for the fees for mediation or other ADR services to shared by the participants in some proportion (not necessarily 50-50). Fees are on a sliding scale from $150 – $250 per hour. On occasion, the fee may be 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 Agreement to Mediate, request documents in advance, and invite counsel to have a telephone call prior to the session.

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

    1. Each participant is required to consult with independent legal counsel before the session. The parties do not need to retain attorneys and the attorneys do not need to attend the mediation session. However, at this time I am unwilling to accept cases unless each party has consulted an attorney and understands his or her rights, obligations, and the range of possible outcomes if the matter proceeds to a hearing.
    2. 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…
    3. A call is scheduled with the other participant. If the other participant thinks I would be acceptable as mediator, then…
    4. 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…
    5. An Agreement to Mediate 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 (typically each party pays some portion).
      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.