Where Do We Go Next?

by John DeGroote, Immediate Past Chair Why are we all here, anyway? That’s a question that’s good to ask ourselves every so often, and I believe it’s time for ADR professionals to assess where we are, and where we’re going. At this point we know that settlement isn’t the product of a last-minute chat on the courthouse steps or the smoke-filled conference room I learned about as a young lawyer.  Modern-day dispute resolution, and the mediation or arbitration it usually takes to get there, happens in a much more structured and intentional way.  Even the conference rooms have changed.  Not only are they not filled with smoke, but they often feature natural light, good (or at least better) coffee, and a solid wi-fi connection. Hardly the image from thirty years ago! Since the 90s, ADR has grown from a relatively new idea into an expected part of most legal disputes.

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Ethical Puzzler

by Suzanne M. Duvall Question: May a case worker for Family Court Services participate in and/or assist in the mediation of a case to which the case worker has been assigned? Would your answer be different if the case did not settle at mediation or before trial? John Zerpopoulus, Dallas I think that y’all are wise to consider implications of the arrangement of teaming the custody evaluator with the mediator in mediation. In my opinion, the arrangement has potential problems that could seriously compromise the evaluator’s testimony when the mediation does not settle. As you know, a custody evaluator is appointed by the court to conduct an evaluation to provide information to the court, with a report and possible testimony, regarding the evaluation findings. That task should be jealously protected by the evaluator. The appointing order never states that an evaluator can assist in mediation. Mediators mediate. Court-appointed evaluators do

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It’s a Matter of Trust

Billy Joel sings It’s a Matter of Trust and doesn’t that apply to almost everything we do as mediators? Some attend advanced mediator trainings to find the latest magic tricks to break impasse. But without trust none of these tricks work; unless, of course, you attended the Harry Potter School of Mediation. Yet trainings, beginner or advanced, spend little time exploring trust and its import in the mediation process. Let’s break down trust into three parts: Trust in the process. Trust in the mediator. Trust between the parties. Trust in the Process How do we establish trust in the mediation process? Do parties enter the mediation trusting the process? If not, how do we instill trust? Let’s exclude mediation “frequent fliers” such as lawyers, insurance representatives, and the like who regularly attend mediations. Why should a first-time user of mediation trust the process? What do they actually understand about the

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Colloquy with John DeGroote

From growing up on a horse farm near Pascagoula, Mississippi, to owning his own mediation and arbitration practice in the trendy area of Dallas known as Deep Ellum, John is a man who lets no grass grow beneath his feet. He just stepped down as the Chair of the ADR Section for the State Bar of Texas; during his term, John worked to advance statewide interest in mediation and arbitration. Owning his own shop and being a mediator and arbitrator full time has been an adventure for John to say the least—but he’s been there before.  From his initial plan of being a communications professor, pursuing a master’s degree at University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, to finding a passion for law and starting his law practice with Jackson Walker in Dallas, John is proof positive that a new adventure can be waiting just around the corner. I know

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Traditional Family Law Mediation

by Michael P. O’Reilly. The biggest difference between family law cases and other types of mediations is the parties’ need to vent and tell their story. Moreover, parties usually do not know what to expect, do not understand the law, and do not appreciate what is, and is not, at stake in a family law mediation. Successful family law mediators educate the parties in all of these areas. Michael O’Reilly shares strategies that mediators can use in this educational process so that the mediation feels successful for all parties involved. Full Chapter Here

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New Frontiers: Early Collaborative (Team) Mediation

by Stacey H. Langenbahn, J.D. & Linda Miller-deBerard. There are a growing number of divorcing couples, unmarried parents, or already divorced parents who want to make decisions privately together for their children, without litigation. Instead, they want to begin the process amicably. They start with either with a neutral Collaborative mediator, or a team of neutral professionals who have targeted expertise and can help them find the right resolution from the beginning. These clients are cost conscious, and fair outcomes are important to them. As a result, groups of professional family mediators are emerging, many with extensive training in Collaborative Law. They are forming core interdisciplinary Collaborative co-mediator teams of a legal and mental health professionals. Stacey Langenbahn and Linda Miller-deBerard offer a Top Ten list of benefits to this type of mediation, and outline what the process looks like. Full Chapter Here

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Parenting Coordination, Parenting Facilitation, and (sometimes) Family Counseling

by Aaron Robb, Ph.D. Research shows that post-divorce parental conflict is the strongest predictor of maladjustment
in children. For parents who continue to experience anger, distrust, or other difficulties in communicating about and cooperating in the care of their children, a parenting coordinator or parenting facilitator may help minimize the children’s exposure to harmful parental conflict. The goal of the parenting coordination or parenting facilitation process is to help parents build a healthy, businesslike relationship with each other. Dr. Aaron Robb addresses how both parenting coordination and parenting facilitation can be useful in resolving family law disputes; and encourage attorneys to consider whether one of these ADR services, or even old-fashioned family counseling, will most efficiently achieve your clients’ goals. Full Chapter Here

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Collaborative Divorce and the Collaborative Law Process in Other Family Cases

by Camille Milner. Many lawyers went to law school with the idea that they would help people, but find out that law typically uses a zero-sum method of conflict resolution. Collaborative law, used most frequently in divorce cases, offers a different way to resolve conflicts. But executing Collaborative cases successfully requires paradigm shifts from clients, lawyers, and other professionals involved. Clients need to shift from expecting lawyers to fight for them in an adversarial way, to taking ownership of their case and their lives. They must learn how to negotiate for themselves to reach their agreement with the support of the Collaborative team. Camille Milner delves into the details of the Collaborative process, and the various models that attorneys can use in Collaborative divorce cases. Full Chapter Here

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Environmental Conflict Resolution

by Suzanne Schwartz. Conflicts over environmental preservation and development of resources show no sign of abating. Environmental conflict resolution (ECR) began in 1974, when it was used to settle the seemingly intractable disputes over the Snoqualmie River dam in Washington. Statutory and organizational infrastructures now support ECR. This chapter helps to understanding why and when to use ECR, and principles and best practices for its use. Author Suzanne Schwartz takes a close look at conducting an ECR process. What internal and external assessments can help determine if a situation warrants use of ECR? Who should participate, and what should their roles be? What is important to process design, and what steps best build consensus? Schwartz covers all of these issues, plus the special issue of science in these collaborative processes. Two specific case studies will weave throughout the chapter to illustrate practical application of the principles described. Full Chapter Here

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Mediation in College and University Settings

by Karey Barnes. and Gene Roberts. Colleges and universities today are home to at least three generations: Baby Boomers, Gen X, and Millennials. On the horizon is also iGen, or Gen Z. Plus, higher education is increasingly diverse. Naturally, the opportunities for conflict amongst such diverse populations are rife. One of the unique aspects of mediating in that environment is the opportunity to educate students, faculty, and staff that there are alternatives beyond going to the courthouse that can be used to resolve disputes. The authors offer data on their experiences with mediation, including breaking down the time it takes to mediate. In the end, parties feel heard, have learned a different way to resolve disputes, and costs are lower for both parties and the universities. Full Chapter Here

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