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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