Category Archives: ADR

Abraham Lincoln on ADR

Abraham Lincoln, the sixteenth President of th...

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The following quotation is attributed to Abraham Lincoln, the 16th President of the United States:

Discourage litigation. Persuade your neighbors to compromise whenever you can. As a peacemaker the lawyer has superior opportunity of being a good man. There will still be business enough.

 

It’s a different worldview: seeing the nature of the world as full of opportunity rather than as a place of scarcity.

(h/t: Joe Markowitz)

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Walking from No to Yes

From ted.com:

an elegant, simple (but not easy) way to create agreement in even the most difficult situations — from family conflict to, perhaps, the Middle East.

Please watch this 18 minute video of William Ury, co-author of “Getting to Yes”

On “non-alternative ADR”

From a Globe and Mail editorial on July 21, 2010 about B.C.’s proposals to update its family law statute:

[…]

To a considerable extent, family law is about family breakdown and the disagreements that follow. No one thinks that courts of law are the ideal place to deal with these matters. But though the concept of alternative dispute resolution has been in currency since the 1980s, many of the attempts at it have still been very much inside the court context – what might be called “non-alternative alternative dispute resolution.”

The white paper presented on Tuesday by Michael de Jong, the Attorney-General of B.C., sets a forthright goal of dispute resolution processes that are genuinely independent of the courts. It says that the commencement of a lawsuit should no longer be the “presumptive” or “implied” starting point for sorting out the consequences of a separation of spouses. The principal device proposed to displace that default mode is to require lawyers to certify that they have presented to their clients the full spectrum of other ways to settle their differences, before they resort to judges by filing papers in court, thus starting litigation.

In Ontario, subsidized family mediation is offered to low-earners in a number of jurisdictions.  In Ottawa, for many years now, couples in this category had access to roughly an hour of on-site family mediation on days when they attended court, and to three or so two hour off-site family mediation sessions.Since April 1, low-earning Ottawans can only avail themselves of subsidized on-site family mediation.  Or, in other words, the starting point for working out arrangements of spouses (and often, parents) who separate is a legal action if you are among those with low incomes.  Exactly the situation that B.C. is seeking to remedy was reintroduced in Ottawa until March 31, 2011 when the Ontario government’s contracts with on-site mediators ends.  Clearly, a retrogressive step from a government that prides itself on “…moving forward with the changes needed to make family matters easier to resolve and more affordable for Ontario families.”

If you live in Ottawa and you think the less advantaged in our city need greater access to alternatives to sorting out arrangements following marriage breakdown, consider writing to the Attorney General of Ontario at:

Hon. Christopher Bentley
Ministry of the Attorney General
11th Floor
720 Bay Street
Toronto, Ontario M5G 2K1

‘Get Divorces Out of Court’

Here is an excellent piece on how to deal with family conflict (H/T: Debra Healey) written by Bruce Peterson, a self-described spiritual progressive and a judge in Minneapolis; he was the presiding judge of the Hennepin County Family Court from  2006 to 2008.

Now I realize spirituality isn’t everyone’s cup of tea; frankly, it wasn’t mine for many years.  But I think that that would be a mistaken reason to forgo this essay.  If you’re at all interested in a rational critique of the family law system and proposals to fix it, you owe it to yourself to read this piece.

Here are some key excerpts:

Based on the many families I have seen in court and some of the things we have been trying in Minnesota, I believe legal institutions can help people act from their highest selves, rather than bring out the worst in our egocentric natures. What’s needed is to do away with the adversary nature of family proceedings and instead offer opportunities for deeper communication.
[…]
Is it possible for a court system to promote healing as a way of resolving surface disputes? Some forms of mediation get close (see www.transformativemediation.org), and a growing movement called “collaborative practice” tries to factor out the coercive outsider by having both lawyers and the parties commit to never going to court (www.collaborativepractice.com). But some especially direct techniques warrant further exploration. For example, Marshall Rosenberg, the originator of what he calls “nonviolent communication” (sometimes called “compassionate communication”) [and] Dominic Barter, a talented English social worker who has been working in Brazil for many years, has married the concept of nonviolent communication with the age-old community circle processes used in traditional cultures throughout the world to develop a very structured process to heal conflicts.

Mediate.com Recognized for Excellence as Problem Solver

The American Bar Association (ABA) has announced that mediate.com is the recipient of its 2010 Lawyer as Problem Solver Award.

In granting this prestigious award, the ABA stated:

Mediate.com has been at the forefront of making the power of the Internet accessible to lawyers, mediators and dispute resolution practitioners. Mediate.com has been developing digital products and resources that have advanced the presence and depth of the field of dispute resolution in immeasurable ways and fundamentally altered the practice of mediation by making online strategies practical and available.

Mediate.com offers the field one of the most used information resources, replete with blogs, cutting edge articles, news of mediation and negotiation practice, as well as a place for interactive dialogue. The website is a practical tool for practitioners and helps them become more effective problem solvers.

“Mediate.com applies the technology of the internet directly to lawyers and dispute resolution practitioners. The founders of Mediate.com had the foresight to see the importance and applications of the Internet and bring them to bear on a developing field of practice. This groundbreaking website has given tools and resources to the public and to ADR professionals to do their own problem solving in virtually every field of law.

Hear, hear!

“How to Divorce & Not Wreck The Kids”

The documentary, “How To Divorce & Not Wreck The Kids”,  that first aired on the CBC last January, is being re-broadcast tonight at 9:00 p.m. EDT.  You can also watch the film below or at this site:

Vodpod videos no longer available.

Although the documentary focuses on the colloborative family law process and does not deal with mediation itself in as great detail, I commend it to you.