Monday, October 22, 2012

Middle Mediation News

I am honored to now be registered on the Alabama Appellate Courts Mediator Roster. I look forward to assisting parties in reaching effective and comprehensive resolution or these difficult cases.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Mediation Week in Alabama

A good article highlighting the need for mediation awareness here in Alabama, along with a list of the activities the Birmingham Bar Association ADR Section and Cumberland Community Mediation Center are coordinating to promote "Mediation in
 the Mainstream," in conjunction with the American Bar Association's Mediation Week. The programs start today and continue through next week.

Not mentioned in the article, but also providing excellent service to our local community, are the Domestic Relations mediation programs being offered in the Jefferson and Shelby County courts. All of the programs discussed provide valuable opportunities for dispute resolution to occur so parties can avoid the costs (both financial and emotional) of a trial.

Monday, June 4, 2012

Why You Want to Keep Control – 45 Minutes May Be All You Get....

I always tell participants in mediation that it is in their best interests to shape the outcome of their dispute – whether it is a civil lawsuit, contract dispute or a family law matter.  I explain to the parties how they have the best resources – personal knowledge and information – that they can use to create the correct outcome.  Information is the key to problem solving and the parties will always be in the best position to use the information available to them.  I explain how despite all best efforts, their lawyers will never have as much information as they have, and that a judge or jury will have even less information on which to base a decision if they do not resolve it outside of the courtroom. 

This point was driven home at a recent seminar I attended.  A judge speaking as part of a panel on family law told the audience of more than 200 lawyers in attendance that in just about every case he has made up his mind on how he is going to rule within 45 minutes of testimony. 


Let that sink in for a minute (or 45).   The person who the parties are trusting to decide how they will co-parent their children, how their assets and debts will be divided, and how they will start off their lives post-divorce has made up his mind within 45 minutes of information starting to come his way.   Now this judge did go on to say that he allows both sides to call witnesses even after the 45 minutes.  However, he also said he typically limits the lawyers to a couple of hours maximum to present their case.  But after that first 45 minutes, he has pretty well made up his mind on how he is going to rule.

Though I find the thought that this is how a judge makes his or her decisions completely offensive, I do appreciate this judge’s honesty.  I have no doubt that this judge is the only one who looks at divorce cases (or most civil disputes for that matter) in this fashion.  The courts are backlogged, their budgets are tighter than ever and the pressure to move cases through the system weighs heavily.   45 minutes may be the reality – but it is not what the parties deserve or expect when they have their “day in court.”

If “45 minutes” doesn’t convince parties and their lawyers to look at other options for resolving disputes, I don’t know what will.  Parties have the goldmine of information available to them.  They can best use it to shape their outcome – the correct outcome for their particular situation.  Lawyers do their clients a disservice if they do not inform them about the reality facing them in trial and give them the opportunity to make an informed decision about the alternative avenues available to them for resolving their conflict.  Parties need to keep control of their greatest tools – their knowledge and information – and use them to create the resolution that fits their needs.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

The Wisdom of Ghandi

My joy was boundless. I had learnt the true practice of law. I had learnt to find out the better side of human nature and enter men's hearts. I realised that the true function of a lawyer was to unite parties riven asunder. The lesson was so indelibly burnt into me that a large part of my time during the 20 years of my practice as a lawyer was occupied in bringing about private compromises of hundreds of cases. I lost nothing thereby, not even money, certainly not my soul. — Mahatma Gandhi

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Re-post from The Huffington Post

Good article from the Huffington Post on divorce mediation.  I like the following description:

Divorce mediation is an out-of-court dispute-resolution tool that helps people settle their differences sensibly and with the legal system having only minimal involvement.

It provides a structured process that minimizes the defensiveness and friction that are normally present during spousal settlement conversations. It does this by creating a non-confrontational atmosphere that encourages the spouses to put their best foot forward when they are presenting their thoughts and concerns to one another.

I also like the caveat at the end of the article - and I agree fully that there is no down-side:

Divorce mediation is not for every couple, and it is not for every situation. However, it has no down-side and can help people save time, energy, and expense, not to mention wear and tear on the family unit.

Check out the full article at:

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

ADR in 2012 – A Good Start to the Year

As 2012 gets underway, alternative dispute resolution (ADR) methods - such as mediation, arbitration and collaborative law - continue to get headlines across the country.  A recent article from The National Law Journal discussed the growth of ADR nationally and the prospects for continued growth. ( Here in Alabama, both the Alabama Bar Association and Birmingham Bar Association have active ADR sections that are providing community education and outreach programs, as well as lawyer education.  Judy Keegan and her staff at the Alabama Center for Dispute Resolution ( continue to provide invaluable resources to our State, and I am glad they are there to back up the Alabama ADR community. 

As outlined in an article from The Denver Post this week (,  divorce mediation is a trend that continues to grow – and that is a good thing.  More couples should take control of these important decisions and do what is necessary to preserve relationships and civility during their divorce.   In a related vein, Collaborative Law continues to pick up steam in Alabama, providing an opportunity for families facing divorce to truly work in a respectful and constructive manner to achieve a resolution to their divorce that can provide for growth and healing.  And I am convinced that Collaborative Law has applications outside of divorce and family disputes.  The efforts locally by the Birmingham Collaborative Alliance ( and nationally by the International Academy of Collaborative Professionals ( can only help this model to spread and provide folks facing many types of disputes another avenue to reach resolution.

There are other areas where ADR is getting media attention as well.  The recession has lead many states to adopt programs for mortgage foreclosure mediation. While the results have varied from state to state, these programs are still being explored as avenues to provide relief to homeowners.  From the world of sports, the Big East Conference has been ordered to mediate with West Virginia University regarding that school’s desire to join a different conference.  All these trends are positive, and should be encouraged.

I will keep spreading the word about ADR options here in Alabama.  The more educated businesses and people become regarding their options for resolving disputes, the better for everyone.  As our courts continue to face large backlogs of cases with ever shrinking budgets, ADR will provide the most cost effective and time efficient means to reach the right result. 

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Good Advice for Clients Discussing Mediation with Counsel

Thankfully, most lawyers I've worked with believe in mediation.  However, there are those out there who will try to undermine collaborative processes.  Good advice for clients in this article.