Sunday, December 30, 2018

D.C. Needs a Mediator!

With a government shutdown of undetermined length facing our nation, Washington, D.C. needs a mediator. As a former congressional staffer on Capitol Hill, I've seen this play many times. The parties and the president have drawn their proverbial lines in the sand and have taken intractable positions. Communication is all but ended and no one is facilitating a discussion (at least that the public can see). If our government is to resume operation, an effective mediator is necessary. As the late negotiation guru Roger Fisher observed, when interests are directly opposed, parties should use objective criteria to resolve their differences. Differences here have sparked a battle of wills, destroying any beneficial relationships between those governing. This is not only inefficient, but unlikely to produce agreement. Decisions based on reasonable standards make it easier for the parties to agree-- not to mention helping to preserve decorum and perhaps reminding public officials they serve the American people, which is what they were elected to do. The key may be to develop objective criteria that is both legitimate and practical. Widely accepted findings, professional standards, or legal precedent are possible sources of objective criteria. Testing for objectivity can be as straightforward as asking both sides to be bound by those standards. Rather than agreeing in substance, the parties may create criteria for resolving this crisis. A mediator could resist the typical pressures of politics and facilitate stubborn leaders refusing to be reasonable, shifting the discussion from substantive to procedural criteria in the search for a mutual, self-determined solution. With a different Congress in 2019, things are sure to become even more complicated. Happy New Year!

Thursday, December 20, 2018

ADR Section Meeting Next Month in Orlando

The Florida Bar Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) Section mid-year meeting occurs January 17, 2019 in Orlando. Our Executive Council will be meeting in-person and all section members are invited to attend, as always. If members of the section have something specific to put on that agenda, please contact Stefanie Svisco, our Florida Bar Program Administrator in Tallahassee. At that time, our section also will be joining with The Florida Bar to produce a training program for mediating and arbitrating attorney grievances. Neutrals are always needed for this process so if you have a desire to get involved, come live to the training or find it online after the meeting and get involved in helping The Florida Bar address these situations. Another project underway next year is a request from the Florida Supreme Court’s Rules & Policy Committee for input from our section members on Mediator Ethics Advisory Committee (MEAC) opinions as well as the Ethical Rules for Certified and Court-Appointed Mediators. This is your opportunity to let the Rules & Policy Committee know which MEAC opinions should be reviewed and potentially revised. The rules form the foundation for MEAC opinions and analysis. Are there areas where the rules should be amended or clarified? The process of amending or making new rules in Florida requires advocates contact the relevant rules committee with suggestions for rule changes based on outcomes and decisions that the participants believe highlight areas of confusion or unintended consequences. Please take this opportunity to let us know. We will capture the comments on our website and submit them to the ADR Rules & Policy Committee as they begin the process of considering upcoming rule changes. We will begin accepting your submissions on the rules starting on February 1, 2019 with a cut-off of March 31, 2019. You will receive a separate email with the details for the submission after January 1, 2019. See more here--

Tuesday, December 11, 2018

ADR Rules & Policy Proposal

The Supreme Court of Florida's Committee on Alternative Dispute Resolution Rules and Policy recently submitted to the Florida Supreme Court an amended petition proposing amendments of the Rules for Qualified and Court-Appointed Parenting Coordinators. The Committee proposes amending rule 15.210 and adding new rules 15.220 through 15.370 to codify in the rules new procedures for parenting coordinators. The Court invited all interested persons to comment on the proposed amendments via the Committee Chair, former Upchurch Watson White & Max Mediation Group Mediator, Honorable Michael S. Orfinger, Volusia County Courthouse Annex in Daytona Beach or, and on support staff to the Committee, Juan R. Collins, Dispute Resolution Center, Florida Supreme Court Building in Tallahassee or, as well as a separate request for oral argument if the person filing the comment wishes to participate in oral argument, which may be scheduled in this case. The Committee Chair has yet to file responses to any comments filed with the Court. The Supreme Court Committee on ADR Rules and Policy was created in 2003 as a successor joint committee of previously separate rules and policy committees. The committee provides the Supreme Court with recommendations relating to: all aspects of ADR policy and rules, legislation, model ADR practices, mediator certification and renewal requirements including continuing mediator education, and mediation training program standards and requirements. See more here-- and