From the Director
month in this space I got all lathered up about a new TV series
featuring a mediator protagonist (see below) that could finally put
mediation and mediators on the public radar screen. Increasing
visibility of mediation got me thinking about increasing respect for
We mediators fight for respect all the time. Mediation is often
dismissed as a “soft” and “touchy feely” process, particularly by
those whose calcified minds are wedded to supposedly rational, logical
systems of dispute resolution. But here’s a news flash – we’re
dealing with people’s problems here, we’re dealing with people in
crisis, we’re dealing with high emotions. When you look closely,
there’s not much that’s rational or logical about most disputes.
Mediation has been called both an art and a craft. It is also a
profession, and mediators deserve respect as professionals. We can
demand it, but we must also earn it and keep earning it, just as other
professionals must. One way we can maintain the right to call
ourselves professionals is to constantly work to expand our knowledge
and improve our craft. Our dispute resolution training is only the
beginning of what should be a lifetime of professional education.
That’s why the Supreme Court’s Commission on Dispute Resolution
requires annual continuing education of our registered neutrals.
One of our two new columns this month is designed to make it easier
for us to gain new knowledge and enhance our skills. Our goal for the
new “Theory to Practice” column is to present summaries of important
research – without jargon – in a form that you can understand and use
in your practice right away. Kennesaw State University’s Timothy
Hedeen, a noted dispute resolution scholar, educator and practitioner,
introduces the column this month. In later installments, other
nationally respected Georgia researchers will help us unearth gems of
professional enlightenment that until now have been sequestered in
impenetrable (to most of us) scholarly journals and books.
Our other new column, “Marketing Tip,” is designed to help you improve
your dispute resolution business. Marketing expert Michele Gibson,
who is also a registered mediator, will be the main author. You may
have heard her speak on “Marketing Your Mediation Practice” at the
2010 ADR Institute last month. It was one of the Institute’s most
popular panel presentations. (You should know also that Michele helps
us produce and distribute this newsletter. Needless to say, she’s
been very generous with her time and expertise.)
So, let’s learn more and earn more. Pretty good resolutions for 2011.
Morokuma, Director GODR
A registered mediator just narrowly avoided becoming a victim of a
mediation scam, so we’re passing the story onto you so you can be
vigilant. Here are the details:
The registered mediator here is a veteran of online mediations. The
mediator was referred this case through “reliable channels,” so
initially felt no reason to be suspicious. The scam involved
enforcement of a divorce order, with “ex-wife” living overseas and
“ex-husband” living supposedly in Georgia (more on the parties’
location below). She said the divorce order awarded her a large sum –
more than $640,000 in this case. She said her ex-husband had paid
only a portion, and she needed the mediator’s help to collect the
remaining half-million dollars. Neither party wanted to use lawyers.
After some seemingly realistic online squabbling, the parties agreed
that the ex-husband would pay the half-million dollars in
installments. The ex-husband’s “accountant” e-mailed the mediator,
asking for the mediator’s banking information to send a bank
draft. Both parties insisted that the ex-husband pay the mediator,
who would deduct a mediation fee and send the balance of the
half-million to the ex-wife.
Fortunately, the mediator thought first to consult an accountant, who
warned the mediator of the many things that could go wrong with such a
transaction. Thus chastened, the mediator proposed alternative
arrangements that would address the parties’ concerns yet not involve
sharing the mediator’s banking information. The ex-husband has not
returned any correspondence since, while the ex-wife has continued to
insist that payment be made through the mediator. The mediator,
seeing the potential to be cheated of everything, decided to terminate
the relationship with the parties immediately.
The mediator noted that among the telltale warning signs was when the
ex-wife said her ex-husband was still residing “in [the mediator’s]
jurisdiction,” without ever stating what that jurisdiction was. It
wasn’t until the mediator mentioned Georgia that the parties mentioned
Georgia specifically. It is reasonable to assume that the parties in
this online mediation were not who they said they were, and that they
could have resided anywhere in the world.
The Lesson: Never, ever, ever consider sharing any of your business
or personal financial information with anyone or any institution you
do not personally know and trust, and certainly never with parties to
a mediation. And certainly never online. As mediators, we trust and
ask to be trusted as part of our process. Don’t let your trust be
manipulated! BE CAREFUL!!
For another informative but more humorous account of a different
online scam, see
this story in the New York Times about a British
playwright’s exchange with an e-mail scammer.
Don’t Forget to Watch
‘Fairly Legal’ on January 20
first TV series to feature a mediator as the star character, “Fairly
Legal,” premieres on USA Network on Thursday, January 20, at 10 pm,
Eastern time. We’re hearing a lot of buzz about mediators organizing
viewing parties to watch the first show together. If you missed our
story in the December newsletter, find it in our
archive. See previews of the show here:
Late Fees Apply Now
The 2010 registration
renewal season ended December 31, 2010. Thanks to all of you
who submitted your renewal applications and documents as requested.
We are cataloging and inputting your applications as quickly as we
can. Any applications that were postmarked after December 31, 2010,
are considered late. Online renewal access and fillable, downloadable
renewal forms are still available on our
Online renewal is still available. Renewing online is easiest and
fastest because most of your personal information is already filled in
on the form. And you can pay your renewal fee online via credit card
using PayPal. No, you don’t need to have a PayPal account or create
one to pay online.
A few neutrals have been unable to print their online renewal
application summaries from the system. Our database vendor has
uploaded a solution that will let you download your summary to your
computer, where you can save the file and print it. The signature
page mentioned below is the last page of the printed summary. You can
find the signature page separately under
“Forms and Applications” on our website.
All renewing neutrals must show on their renewal applications that
they have taken at least 3 hours of continuing education since their
initial registration or their last renewal, whichever comes later.
You can no longer carry over CE hours from previous years or toward
future years. CLE counts. So does CJE.
The late renewal fee is $250; it is $300 if you are
registered in domestic relations.
The GBI requires all renewing neutrals to submit a hand-signed
signature page that gives GODR permission to run a criminal background
check. For those submitting printed applications, the signature page
is the last page of the renewal form. For those submitting
renewals online, the signature page is the last page of your online
application summary, so please print your summary. The signature
page is also available under
“Forms and Applications” on our website. Your application cannot
be processed without the signature page. Mail, e-mail, or fax your
signature page to us.
If you submit your renewal application late, your status is considered
“lapsed.” You can still handle court-connected cases while in lapsed
status. Your status will remain lapsed through April 30, 2011. After
that date, if you still haven’t submitted your renewal application,
your status will become “inactive,” and you cannot handle
court-connected cases. Once your status is inactive, you have two
calendar years from the previous renewal deadline – December 31, 2012,
in this case – to “reinstate” your registration. Reinstatement forms
are posted on our website under
“Forms and Applications”. If you fail to reinstate within those
two years, your registration will be “archived.” “Archived” neutrals
who wish to register must fulfill all training and registration
requirements again for each category of registration.
Renewal instructions and information are posted
here on our website.
**Always send important documents to GODR via a service that offers
tracking and delivery confirmation.**
Case Watch: For Mediators
The phrase “child support” appears frequently in this column, and
there’s are good reasons: 1) it’s a common issue in divorce
mediation; 2) it’s complicated to calculate in Georgia; and 3) it’s
important to get right. Among the legal landmines are those dastardly
deviations from the calculated support obligations. In this
installment of Case Watch, divorce attorney and registered mediator
Mary Ellen Cates analyzes the recent Georgia Supreme Court decision in
Holloway v. Holloway, which emphasizes how critical it is that
mediators help parties adhere to the legal requirements for
calculating child support – to the letter and to the decimal point.
Theory to Practice: What You Don’t Know Can’t Help You
So what do you know about
dispute resolution, really? If you’re like us, probably a lot less
than you could – or should. But it may not be all our fault. You
see, in our field scholars and practitioners mostly work in two
separate and exclusive worlds, and generally they have been unable to
cooperate across that cultural divide. In this first installment of
our new Theory to Practice column, Kennesaw State University Professor
Timothy Hedeen writes about this unproductive state of affairs in
dispute resolution – and how we might fix it.
Marketing Tip: Make Internet Search Engines Work for You
If you have a dispute resolution practice and you want it to thrive,
then you need to pay attention to our new Marketing Tip column.
Marketing specialist and registered mediator Michele Gibson will
regularly cover a wide variety of ways in which you can optimize your
marketing and make your business more visible to potential clients.
This month, Michele talks about the modern art of SEO. What’s SEO?
Well, you need read the full article to find out!
ADR Institute Sets
By all accounts the 17th
Annual ADR Institute and 2010 Neutrals’ Conference on December 10 was
a huge success. We attracted nearly 300 participants, breaking
last year’s attendance record by nearly 50. And feedback has been
overwhelmingly positive. Thank you to all of you who came to learn
and network! We are grateful also to the hardworking members of our
planning committee; to our annual co-sponsor and partner, the Dispute
Resolution Section of the State Bar of Georgia; and to the Dispute
Resolution Section of the Atlanta Bar Association, which also
supported the Institute.
If you didn’t make it to the 2010 Institute and you’d like to see what
you missed, you will have a couple of options soon:
Institute for Continuing Legal Education recorded most of the
Institute and is producing a DVD set that you can rent for a fee and
that will include printed program materials. ICLE hopes to have the
2010 Institute DVDs available by late January 2011. We will keep you
2) GODR plans to post on our website Bill Eddy’s plenary speech
entitled, “High Conflict People in Mediation.” You will be able to
view the video on your computer, answer a few questions about the
video, and earn 1 hour of neutral CE – free! (ICLE owns the rights to
the video and has given us permission to post this segment. However,
ICLE has stipulated that CLE can NOT be earned by watching this video
through the GODR website.) We hope to have the video posted by
Commission Posts New Resources
Georgia Child Support Commission has just posted two newly updated
resources handy for those of you who work in the domestic arena:
“Companion Guide to Child Support Worksheet and Schedules” (updated
December 2010) and “Establishing Paternity and Legitimation Under
Georgia Law” (updated December 2010). Find them both under
“Resources” at the CSC website.
GSU Law’s Mock
Arbitration Team Headed to National Finals
The very first mock arbitration team fielded by the Georgia State
University College of Law
made a spectacular showing at the American Bar Association’s Regional
Arbitration Competition, held November 13-14, 2010, at the University
of Northern Kentucky Chase Law School.
The mock case in Kentucky involved a wrongful discharge
(whistleblower) employment law problem. In the competition, each
four-student team comprises two “attorneys” and two “witnesses.” Each
attorney/witness team must learn both claimant and respondent sides of
the case and must be prepared to argue whichever side they are
Student Trial Lawyers Association
members Lisa Bobb and Andrew Hagenbush represented the Claimant in the
competition, while Madeleine Peake and Wesley Starrett represented the
Respondent. Professor Doug Yarn served as team coach.
Teams are scored on the quality of their presentations and the
strength of their legal arguments. On the first day, GSU received the
highest overall score among 12 teams. The next day, GSU and Northern
Kentucky emerged as the best two teams, meaning both will compete in
the national competition January 21-22, 2011, in Chicago. Good luck
Our thanks to James Hellegard,
director of communications at GSU College of Law, for allowing us to
reprint this information.
GSU Law Mock Arbitration Team members (l to r) Hagenbush, Peake,
Bobb and Starrett. Photo by Doug Yarn.
Georgia ADR Blog
While GODR staff have not
had the time to blog for you, we encourage you to visit the
blog created by Georgia State University law professor Doug Yarn
and GSU law student Tom DeFreytas to inform and encourage discussion.
Please add it to your reading list, send the link to your colleagues,
and visit often. The address:
Commission Meeting in January
The next meeting of the
Commission on Dispute Resolution is scheduled for Thursday, January 6,
2011, at 2 pm, in Meeting Room 1 of the
State Bar of Georgia Conference Center, 104 Marietta St. NW,
Atlanta, GA 30303. Meetings are open to the public. Upcoming
Commission meetings, agendas and minutes are always posted on our
Upcoming CE and Training Offerings
On-time registration renewal ended December 31, 2010. But there’s no
reason to panic about your annual 3-hour neutral CE requirement.
Remember, any training you took counts as CE as long as you took it
since your last renewal or your initial registration, whichever comes
later. Lawyers, any CLE you took in 2010 counts as CE. Likewise,
judges, any CJE you took in 2010 counts as CE. Accountants and other
professionals with CE requirements, same thing. And any ADR-related
seminar or training you attended in 2010 just because you wanted to
learn something, yes, that counts as CE also. Check frequently at our
website for the latest CE
and training offerings.
Back Issues Available Online
is sent monthly to all registered neutrals, generally at the beginning
of the month. If you missed an issue, our back issues are posted at
the bottom right of our website, under
“Newsletter Archive.” Please take a look. If you know people who
want Be Neutral, please direct them to our subscription box at
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website, where they just
need to enter their e-mail addresses. Please forward this newsletter
to anyone who might be interested in ADR in Georgia courts. Forward
it just as you would any other e-mail. If folks who are not
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they can submit their e-mail addresses in the subscription box at the
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website. And sending us feedback is easy – just reply to this
e-mail as you would any other e-mail. We want to hear from you!
Spread the Word
Please forward this newsletter to anyone who might be interested in ADR in Georgia courts. Forward it just as you would any other e-mail.
If folks who are not registered neutrals want to receive the
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