Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Join me 1/19 for Arbitration Backlash CLE webinar

This month, the U.S. Supreme Court issued its third decision in the last four years upholding private-party contracts to arbitrate rather than to litigate disputes. Arbitration, however, continues to be attacked by media and government despite being an effective ADR method to resolve disputes and control the rising cost of trying lawsuits. Federal law supports and governs the practice through the Federal Arbitration Act. To be enforceable, a clause must provide a meaningful opportunity for redress, and courts review contractual provisions for fundamental fairness. Because the litigation system has become so expensive, arbitration is often the preferred forum for disputes involving amounts in controversy for which litigation of claims is uneconomical. Next month, UWWM will feature this topic in its complimentary webinar entitled, Arbitration Backlash. Arbitrators Lawrence Kolin and Brandon Peters, along with our guest Phil Calandrino, will explore the backlash against arbitration and remind attendees of the origins and benefits of this dispute resolution process. This content is designed for trial lawyers who represent clients in arbitration and for attorneys who use arbitration clauses in contracts. Attending our complimentary Webinar will entitle you to 1 hour of General CLE credit, pending with The Florida Bar. After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining us Tuesday, January 19, 2016 from 12:00 PM - 1:00 PM EST We look forward to your attendance! See registration information here--

Friday, December 18, 2015

The French Do It Better? Je dis ça, je dis rien

French consumers must currently bring claims against French companies to court. Though come 2016, French companies offering goods and services to consumers will need to provide mediation mechanisms-- free of charge-- in disputes arising from poor performance of a merchandise sale contract or a service agreement. The new requirements come with implementation of recent EU Directives on alternative dispute resolution for consumer disputes. The rules are applicable to any individual or legal entity, whether public or private, acting as part of a commercial, industrial, non-industrial or free market activity. Both domestic and cross-border disputes are subject to these rules. As such, companies must provide consumers with mediator contact details in a clear and legible manner on their website along with their TOC of sale or services, their purchase orders or any other relevant media. Consumer mediation will be observed, evaluated, and controlled by a new entity called the Commission for the Evaluation and the Control of Consumer Mediation (la Commission d’évaluation et de contrôle de la médiation de la consommation – CECMC). Reportedly, mediation will remain an option for consumers and will not be obligatory. Non-compliance on the part of those parties subject to the rules can be administratively fined up to three thousand Euros for individuals and €15,000 for corporations. See more here-- and

Friday, December 11, 2015

Orlando Mediator Named NLJ Trailblazer

I'm pleased to announce that I've been named as one of only 50 attorneys to be honored as The National Law Journal’s 2015 Litigation Trailblazers. I'll be accepting this award at the inaugural reception of all distinguished recipients in New York City next week. “The National Law Journal proudly recognizes the people who have truly ‘moved the needle’ in facilitating the changing ways that law firms conduct business,” says Kenneth A. Gary, the journal’s vice president and group publisher. “Whether it be technological developments, operational efficiencies, marketing and business development breakthroughs or research – we think this list embodies the spirit that will shepherd and shape modern law firms as a business going into 2016 and beyond.” Only in their second year, the litigation awards recognize top legal professionals who have promoted significant change in the way cases are resolved, using inventive techniques or technologies, bringing unique types of cases to court, or executing novel approaches, according to ALM Media Publisher Tom Larranaga. “They have raised the bar in several meaningful ways and are establishing important new standards as the legal landscape continues to evolve,” he said. Winners last year included David Boies, one of Time magazine’s 100 Most Influential People in 2010, and Ted Olson, who was Boies’ opposing counsel in the Supreme Court case Bush v. Gore and a former U.S. solicitor general. This year’s group includes Barry Richard, also of the 2000 presidential election case, and famed national trial lawyer Billy Gunn. I attribute this win to chairing of pioneering efforts to modernize Florida’s civil procedure rules to include electronically stored information and to my innovative work in ADR, specifically promoting the use of E-Neutrals through this blog and other legal publications. My colleague at Upchurch Watson White & Max Mediation Group, Richard Lord, remarked it is "a great honor reflecting Lawrence Kolin’s serious, deliberate and long-term experience and thought leadership in ADR.” See this week's special Litigation Trailblazer publication from The National Law Journal here-- and a full list of all 2015 Trailblazer & Pioneer category winners here-- Thanks for your continuing support and readership!

Sunday, December 6, 2015

New Federal Rules Amendments Now Effective

Last week, the long-awaited Federal Rules of Civil Procedure amendments became effective without changes to the proposed language by Congress. These rules importantly pertain to discovery of Electronically Stored Information or ESI-- a concept first introduced into the FRCP in 2006. The changes are essentially outlined as follows: Rule 1: The very first rule now specifies that both the court and the parties should interpret the rules to secure just, speedy and inexpensive outcomes. Rule 4: Plaintiffs now have only 90 days to serve a defendant after filing the complaint. Of course, courts may still extend the time for service upon a showing of good cause. Rule 16: Conferences set under this rule are now 90 days after service or 60 days after an appearance by a defendant, whichever is earlier. Rule 26: Scope of discovery substantially changes, requiring that discovery requests be proportional to the needs of the case, as opposed to just reasonably calculated to lead to the discovery of admissible evidence. Courts may now allocate discovery costs. Parties are to discuss preservation of evidence in their discovery plan and may serve document requests before the scheduling conference, having been considered served at the first Rule 26(f) conference. Rule 34: Responses to production requests now must state with specificity the grounds for objecting and whether any responsive materials are being withheld on the basis of that objection. Rule 37: The proverbial Safe Harbor relating to preservation obligations now lessens a court's power to impose sanctions for failure to preserve information, merely allowing ordering so-called curative measures based on a finding that a party is prejudiced from spoliation of evidence. More severe sanctions, such giving an adverse inference or entering default judgment, are permitted under proposed Rule 37(e)(2), but only after finding a party acted with intent to deprive another party of the information’s use in the litigation. Of course, despite a new emphasis on cooperation and proportionality, continuing E-Discovery skirmishes are expected. The use of confidential mediation for the resolution of such disputes by E-Neutrals is encouraged if the parties and counsel cannot settle the entire matter. E-Neutrals are mediators specializing in complex cases involving electronic evidence who can shape discovery plans, allocate costs and suggest and create efficiencies. The mediation process may focus a confidential conference solely on managing ESI, or the neutral may broaden the discussion, reminding parties of risks and perhaps dissuading them from merely using E-Discovery as a sword or shield. Mediation is an avenue that can present parties with significant cost-savings in ESI cases, if performed early enough in the litigation. Getting back to the merits is the goal of this process and these new discovery rules. Until there are orders applying these amendments and some new FRDs reported, it remains to be seen how they will impact litigation in the federal courts. See more on this development here-- and

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

President as Mediator

This week, American President Obama served as would-be mediator between Russian President Putin and Turkish President Erdogan while all were in Paris. Reuters reported Obama met with Putin on Monday during the COP21 Climate Change Conference there. After the meeting, the White House informed journalists that Obama expressed regret over the death of the Russian pilot, but stressed Russia should de-escalate tensions with Turkey. The Daily Mail wrote that Obama told Putin Russian airstrikes in Syria need to target Daesh militants and not attack rebel groups who oppose Syrian President Assad. Yesterday, Obama met with Erdogan and pledged U.S. commitment to Turkey’s security and sovereignty, according to the AP. Erdogan was also asked to ease the tension with Russia and focus on the campaign against the Daesh. Daesh is apparently an Arabic acronym and the equivalent of Isis or Isil. Obama emphasized the common enemy remains Isil. Of course, Turkey accused Moscow of bombing Syria’s Turkmen region, where no Daesh terrorists exist. Russia claimed its plane was shot down to defend existing oil trade routes between Turkey and Daesh, allegedly taking place on an industrial scale, according to TASS news agency. Erdogan promised to resign if Moscow can prove its claim, but stressed that Putin must be the one to resign if he is lying. Though news headlines touted Obama as mediator between Russia and Turkey, he is not truly a neutral, as America actually leads the anti-Daesh coalition. Similarly, the U.K. Independent reported U.S. officials are pressuring the Turkish government to enforce its Northern Syrian border, still used as a smuggling route by the terrorists. On the humanitarian front, Russian airstrike campaigns in Syria have caused many civilian casualties, killing some three hundred non-combatants. No apologies were made and the situation still seems unsettled. It's hard to be a neutral facilitator when you have a stake in the outcome... See more here-- and