Conflict Resolution

Advanced Problem-Solving Strategies

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We tell stories to make sense of experience. We need to organize the chaos of events in the form of stories, containing a beginning, a middle and and end. By doing that, events acquire meaning. We tell stories to define who we are. Tomorrow night my family will gather to re-tell the Passover story, a defining story of the Jewish people, as it charts a journey from slavery to the promised land. Every culture defines itself by telling their own stories. We also tell stories as a means of resolving conflict. One thing that trial has in common with mediation is that both forms of dispute resolution provide an opportunity for the parties to the conflict to tell their stories. […]

The official word came down yesterday from the LA Superior Court ADR program, in a notice sent to all members of the court’s ADR panels. The entire department is shutting down by the end of June. No more cases will be sent to mediation after this week. All current cases are supposed to be set for hearings by May 10, 2013. It is truly the end of an era for court-related ADR in Los Angeles County. Whatever gripes users and mediators may have had with this program, and I have heard lots of them, the size and scope of this program was still a truly impressive achievement for the court. The ADR department successfully helped resolve thousands of cases every […]

Thanks to the Consumer Attorneys Association of Los Angeles and the Association of Southern California Defense Counsel for putting on an informative program tonight detailing changes about to take place in the LA Superior Courts due to budget cuts. Thanks especially for the plug provided for the Southern California Mediation Association’s program still in development to provide a referral source for mediators. SCMA’s program is intended to make up to some extent for the imminent abandonment of ADR administrative services by the courts. Neither the court nor SCMA are going to be able to make up entirely for the loss of the court’s effective procedures for referring cases to mediation. The court has apparently decided, however, that it can no […]

Assuming the LA Superior Court proceeds with its plan to close its ADR program this spring, the question to ask is not: how will people find mediators? Because mediators are not difficult to find. A web search will turn up hundreds of private mediators in the Southern California region. ADR provider organizations will be only too happy to refer litigants to their panels.  Organizations like SCMA have lists of mediators accessible on their websites. And a number of directories are available in which mediators promote their services. The real question is whether parties and attorneys are going to continue to seek out the services of mediators after the court stops performing the functions of assigning cases to mediators and following […]

I find myself charged with an unexpected project, trying to figure out how to deal with the probable demise of one of the largest court-assisted ADR programs in the country. At the same time, the court system is also implementing drastic funding cutbacks that are likely to increase backlogs and reduce the availability of court services, suggesting that mediation is needed more than ever to resolve disputes that the court system is less and less capable of resolving. The elimination of funding for the LA County Superior Court ADR program, expected to take place by June of this year, combined with these other cutbacks, presents a unique opportunity for other organizations–such as the Southern California Mediation Association, of which I […]