Wednesday, June 25, 2008

"Give Mediation a Chance"

Yes! Yes! Yes! Give mediation a chance! That's the call from business lawyer and mediator Scott Flegal (he's got one of those last names that destined him for law, just like me!) in the Nashua Telegraph ( on June 12.

In his article, "Before Litigation, Give Mediation a Chance," Flegal explains how he's tried to pitch the virtues of mediation to businesses over the years: " 'In mediation, you make the rules. You control how your dispute gets resolved. You make the decisions. You're in control over your destiny! Isn't that terrific?' Eventually I noticed that it was at that moment of my pitch that people stopped listening to me and started dialing up their lawyer to have them file suit."

After considering the negative impact of litigation and the potential sources of America's love/hate relationship with litigation, Flegal says: "Ironically, part of the solution to this problem may involve rebuilding that very lawyer/client relationship. As lawyers, we might be able to improve it by making sure our clients understand that while the law is almost always relevant in dealing with a dispute, it is not necessarily determinative. There may be other alternatives available to the client that could do a better job of meeting the client's most important interest than filing a lawsuit. As lawyers we must use the law to understand the relative strengths and weaknesses of the client's position. But every bit as important is the role we play in helping the client decide whether asserting those legal rights in court is the best option."

Flegal's pleas to potential litigants as well as to the attorneys who are hired to help the clients to find the right solution is well-founded. Self-determination is a cornerstone of mediation and stepping up and facing a dispute as a rational adult capable of negotiating and making informed decisions is truly a great way to resolve any type of dispute!

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Advanced Mediation Training for Mediators

The fabulous Community Boards Conflict Resolution Services of San Francisco is well known among practicing mediators as well as many members of the community who have used Community Boards' no-cost and low-cost mediation services to resolve their disputes (which include neighbor disputes, family feuds, roommate problems, landlord & tenant disputes, parent & child issues, fences, pets, tree maintenance, vandalism, etc.).

Many mediators started their mediation training at Community Boards through their Basics of Mediation courses and became panel mediators for Community Boards. Now, Community Boards is offering Advanced Mediation Trainings which build on all the skills mediators learned in The Basics and offer strategies for both community and non-community based mediations. This means that professional mediators can work to improve their skills as mediators in their fields and interact with other professional mediators.

I am very excited about this training in part because I'm one of the trainers and I think this is a much-needed course. But I'm also excited because the Community Boards model and techniques that are taught in The Basics are so valuable in every mediation I conduct, that to be able to build on those techniques and skills as a mediator and to work with all the amazing talent at Community Boards while doing it, is really just an ideal situation for all mediators!

Here's info for the one-day course, "Advanced Settlements & Complex Mediations" (Saturday, August 16 9:00 AM - 5:00 PM)
*Advanced Settlement Strategies *Techniques for Breaking Impasse
*"Dealing with Dollars” in Negotiations *When and How to Use Caucus
*Complex Mediations *Multi-party Mediations *Managing Mediations with Third Parties

The workshops will combine short lectures, group discussions and role play practices. Additionally, there will be a BYOP (“Bring Your Own Problems”) working lunch for participants to ask the trainers for their input and expertise. The training will conclude with a “Building Confidence, Demonstrating Competence” session. Lunch is provided.

Go to and click on trainings and scroll through the Basics and Mediation Masters and Refresher Course Trainings and go to Advanced Mediation Training for more information about the course and the trainers. Or go to Happy mediating!

Monday, June 09, 2008

Divorce Mediation in the Wall Street Journal

There was a great article in the Wall Street Journal last week touting the benefits of mediation and other collaborative methods of resolution of divorce and family issues over court litigation. Here is the link to the article here.

The article highlights the lasting negative effects on children from a bitter divorce as at least one reason to keep the divorce out of court. The Wall Street Journal also sets forth some numbers that divorce attorneys and mediators know very well and that couples going through a divorce discover all too soon: The average mediated divorce costs less than $7,000 and the average collaborative divorce costs less than $20,000, while the average litigated case costs $78,000!! And that last figure is most likely a national figure since fully litigated cases in California (with battling experts, etc.) will run more like $100,000 to $150,000.

This explains why one of my favorite mediators (Rodney Johnson in Marin County) asks couples debating between divorce mediation/collaborative law or traditional representation by battling attorneys what they want to pay for - his children's college education or their own children's college education. The choice is yours.

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

Life After Divorce Mediation: eLoveAgain

I am a family law mediator which means I work with couples at the beginning and the end of their most significant relationships. I work with engaged couples to prepare balanced prenuptial agreements (to minimize disagreements in the event of a divorce) and I work with couples who are divorcing but who do not want to waste time and money fighting in court.

Because of my work, I am always interested in finding new resources to help my clients regardless of the particular stage of their relationship they may be in. So, I was quite interested when a fabulous chiropractor colleague/friend, Dr. Laura Sheehan, referred me to eLoveAgain.

This site truly offers what it promises: "Your onestop relationship recovery guide and free e-counseling support source." The site offers events for singles, self-improvement and wellness, counseling resources, and a whole host of other goodies. Here is a short excerpt from their home page:

"You are entering a period of transition. Life constantly changes for everyone, everywhere at every moment. This site has been designed to assure you that you are not alone. Millions of people right now, at this very instant, are ending relationships and will soon begin new journeys.
We understand what it takes to trust again. It takes time, work, and a little help. We know that by connecting you to new services, ideas, and concepts you will broaden your world and ensure meaningful new experiences."

It is a truly unique site with great information and resources. Check it out!