Conflict Resolution

Advanced Problem-Solving Strategies

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The most high profile negotiations in the world this weekend took place in Geneva, where the U.S. and Russia announced agreement on a framework for the surrender of chemical weapons by the government of Syria. Apparently discussion of this issue has going on for a long time. The idea of disarmament by the government of Syria did not simply arise in response to its recent chemical weapons attack. We might therefore try to analyze this agreement using modern principles of interest-based bargaining. Syria and Russia have an interest in resolving a terrible civil war (they are hoping to resolve it in favor of the government of Syria). They also have an interest in trade and decent relations with other countries in […]

I recently mediated a case pending in federal court, in which we had a productive session that brought the parties a lot closer to resolution. Both sides had agreed that only the main defendant needed to attend the mediation, as the others lived on the other side of the country and had little willingness or ability to contribute anyway. But at the end of the session, there was still a gap to bridge, and defendants’ counsel proposed that he confer with these absent parties to see if they could raise enough additional commitments to close the gap. We left it that counsel would continue settlement discussions between themselves, and call me in if necessary. Both sides left in a positive […]

On July 16,2013 the Southern California Mediation Association is holding a launch party for our Select a Mediator directory. This promises to be one of our biggest and best parties EVER, so please invite all your friends. The launch party is not limited to SCMA members, or to mediators. In fact, we encourage attorneys and other consumers of mediation services to come and learn more about our service. This event will take place at the Sofitel Hotel at 6:00 p.m. (MORE DETAILS AND RSVP HERE) Created in response to the dismantling of the LA Superior Court random select and party select mediation panels, our directory represents a substantial upgrade of SCMA’s member directory. It allows users to search for mediators […]

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 […]

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 […]