Sunday, February 26, 2017

Did Mediation Disrupt Law?

Mediation was once viewed with the same suspicion found in the present disruption of industries and professions. After all, it was boldly called Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR). Over the past couple of decades in Florida, we have vastly reduced the number of disputes going to trial, such that less than two percent of cases actually go that way. Because of skilled mediators and the embrace of the process by the bench and counsel, parties are participating in less formal court proceedings, having been encouraged to engage in early resolution of disputes in a cost effective manner. Trial courts remain available for the minority of legal matters unable to be resolved through facilitated negotiation. ADR processes offer litigants court-connected opportunities to resolve their disputes without judicial intervention. In Florida, this has resulted in one of the most comprehensive court-connected mediation programs in the country. The Florida Dispute Resolution Center (DRC) was created during the mid-'80s to provide assistance to the courts in developing ADR programs and to conduct education and research on ADR in general. Legislation some thirty years ago resulted in Chapter 44, Florida Statutes, Mediation Alternatives to Judicial Action. This law granted civil trial judges the statutory authority to refer cases to mediation or arbitration, subject to rules and procedures established by the Supreme Court of Florida. The Supreme Court duly established minimum standards and procedures for qualifications, certification, professional conduct and training for mediators and arbitrators who are appointed pursuant to this chapter. Since then, the statute has been revised several times and procedural rules, certification qualifications, ethical standards and continuing education requirements for mediators have been implemented. Currently, rules requiring mediators of filed cases in circuit and family court to be certified are being debated and were recommended by the ADR Section of The Florida Bar as outlined in a recent post on this blog. The ADR Rules & Policy Committee of the Supreme Court of Florida will next consider and likely recommend such changes. See more here-- and and and