Supreme Court Recognizes Service of Former Commission Member
Former Commission on Dispute Resolution member Laurence L.
Christensen, Esq., recently received a resolution from the
Supreme Court of Georgia in recognition of “distinguished
service and contribution to the administration of justice”
through his service on the Commission. The framed resolution,
signed by all seven justices, was presented to Christensen by
Chief Justice Hugh P. Thompson at the Commission meeting on
February 11, 2015.
Christensen, a registered mediator and arbitrator since 1995,
served in several capacities during his four years as a
Commission member. Most significantly, he chaired the
Commission’s Budget and Personnel Committee during several
years of extreme cuts to the Office of Dispute Resolution’s
state operating funds. Through his leadership, he committed
the Dispute Resolution Section of the State Bar of Georgia to
hire legislative and accounting professionals to help ensure
the fiscal health and independence of the Office. “Thanks in
great part to Larry’s leadership, the Office survived the most
difficult budgetary time in its history and has been entirely
self-supporting since FY 2012,” said Judge Charles E.
Auslander III, Commission chair. “Larry has financially
equipped the Office and Commission to once again exercise
vision and leadership in dispute resolution in Georgia.”
Laurence L. Christensen, Esq. with
Chief Justice Hugh P. Thompson
New Commission Members Sworn in During 2014
The Commission on Dispute Resolution comprises 17 members
appointed by the Georgia Supreme Court who volunteer their
time to serve the judiciary and its customers by leading the
alternative dispute resolution system in the courts. In 2014,
four new members joined the Commission for five year terms.
The new members represent the State Bar of Georgia, the
judiciary, and the General Assembly. They are: Judge Stefani
Lacour, Magistrate Court of Fulton County; Raymond G.
Chadwick, Jr., Esq., attorney and registered mediator and
arbitrator in Augusta; Mary Donovan, Assistant Dean for
Student Affairs at Mercer University’s Walter F. Georgia
School of Law, and a registered mediator for civil and
domestic cases; and State Representative Jay Powell, Esq., an
attorney from Camilla who has represented District 171 in the
General Assembly since 2009.
In Depth Articles
Might You Say When Asked About Mediation?
Have you ever been asked to discuss why, when or how to mediate a
case? Or been asked to make a presentation on mediation and its
benefits? If so, what were some observations or recommendations you
provided? I have been asked these questions by skeptical or
inexperienced lawyers, and made presentations as well. This will be
the first of several articles (not sure how many) that will discuss
what I typically say.
The Importance of Mediation Guidelines
that you have just completed a mediation and thought all the basics
were covered pursuant to your mediation guidelines. You later learn
that one of the attorneys has subpoenaed you to testify in court about
what occurred during the mediation. You believe that your guidelines
provided you protection from having to appear. In afterthought, you
are not certain whether your guidelines were clear and concise enough
to withstand scrutiny. How can you avoid that kind of anxiety and have
confidence in your guidelines?
Farmer's Crop Insurance Claim Incomplete, Untimely
A farmer in Pulaski County, Georgia, filed a crop insurance claim
under the terms of a policy he obtained in accordance with the
Standard Reinsurance Agreement with the Federal Crop Insurance
Corporation [“FCIC”]. His 2008 crop had a low yield due to poor
weather conditions. The farmer notified the insurance agent of a
possible claim under the policy. The claimant and insurer disagreed on
whether proper notice of the claim had been timely filed, but after a
factual review the insurer denied the claim.
Am I a Bad Divorce Mediator ?
November 2014, the Georgia Supreme Court issued two rulings that dealt
with child support deviations. Both cases are linked here (http://www.win-windivorce.com/?p=146
) and here (http://www.win-windivorce.com/?p=148
). To oversimplify the cases’ rulings, the Supreme Court reiterated
that judges must dot every “i” and cross every “t” if a deviation –
upwards or downwards – from the State’s “presumptive” amount of child
support set forth in the State’s guidelines is to occur.
Leveraging LinkedIn as Part of Your Marketing Efforts
For most ADR professionals, LinkedIn can be fertile
territory for marketing their services and searching for prospective
clients. However, there is a process to using LinkedIn well, and it is
quite possible to damage your reputation if you do it incorrectly.
Professional Liability Insurance Exclusively for Registered Neutrals
Markets, Inc., offers Georgia registered neutrals a professional
liability insurance program for neutrals at low association rates.
What is Professional
Liability Insurance for?
For costs (including legal fees) or
damages resulting from allegations of negligent acts, errors or
omissions in the conduct of arbitration proceedings or dispute
What kind of coverage is
available ($500 deductible per claim):
As low as $230 annual premium for
$100,000/$300,000 coverage for a mediator of non-family cases who
mediates less than 20 hours/week.
As low as $340 annual premium for
$100,000/$300,000 coverage for a mediator who handles family cases
and mediates 20 hours/week or more.
As low as $390 annual premium for
$100,000/$300,000 coverage for an arbitrator/mediator.
*Your insurance premiums may be
tax-deductible business expenses.
Is this a deal?
Similar coverage is likely to cost
several times more if you buy it as an individual.
Coverage regardless of
which state you live or work in, as long as you are a Georgia-
Prior Acts Coverage for
claims as long as there is no prior knowledge of any pending claims
circumstance which may
give rise to a claim against the Assured at inception date;
Staff covered at no
additional costs (includes secretaries, file clerks, etc.);
Lower rates for part-time
Volunteers can be included
available for lawyers with mediation/arbitration practices;
Defense coverage provided
even where the insured is found at fault;
Optional extended claims
reporting period available.
Why do I need liability insurance?
Because across the country, neutrals are
being sued and accused of misconduct more often these
days. Defending against even false claims can cost a lot of money
and cause a lot of anxiety. See this
Yes, Georgia-registered neutrals serving
in a court-annexed or court-referred program are immune from
liability “for civil damages for any statement, action, omission or
decision made in the course of any ADR process.” But they can still
be liable if, “that statement, action, omission or decision is 1)
grossly negligent and made with malice or 2) is in willful disregard
of the safety or property of any party to the ADR process.” (Georgia
Supreme Court ADR Rules, VII(C)). And even defending yourself
from a baseless lawsuit can be daunting and expensive. This
liability policy can give you that extra peace of mind.
For more information,
Kaitlyn Hassall , Account
Toll-free Phone 800-323-6234
Check frequently at our
website for the latest CE and training offerings. Remember, any
ADR-related training you take 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 during that same time period counts
as CE. Likewise, judges and CJE. Accountants and other professionals
with CE requirements, same thing.
And remember, we posted three videos on our website that registered
neutrals can watch for free to earn CE credit. Each video is one-hour
long. Neutrals are free to watch the videos as many times as they
wish, but we can only award 1 CE hour credit for each video once a
renewal season. Please note the date you finished viewing each video
so you can report it on your renewal form. Remember, registered
neutrals are required to take at least 3 hours of CE each year in
order to renew their registrations. Look for the link,
“Continuing Education Videos,” in the main menu of our website.
For more information on what qualifies for CE, please see the
“Help! I Need CE!” link
on our website.
Advocacy- Institute of Continuing Judicial Education in Georgia
8 am – 3 pm
State Bar of Georgia Conference Center, 104
Marietta St. NW, Atlanta, GA 30303
Cost: $155 (Early
Registration); $185 (On-Site Registration)
Hours: 6 hours
Advancing Your Mediation Skills
Presenter: Conflict Management Training Academy
/ Carol Rice
9"00 a.m. - Noon
Management Training Academy, Smyrna, GA
Specialized Issues in Domestic Violence
Center for Conflict Management at Kennesaw State
8:30 a.m. - 5:00 p.m.
Location: Center for Conflict Management at
Kennesaw State University
402 Bartow Avenue, Suite 2039, Kennesaw, GA 30144
Mediation in the Court System (Brown Bag Lunch)
Conflict Management Training Academy /
Time: 11:30 a.m. -
Fulton County Juvenile Court, 395 Pryor Street,
Atlanta, GA 30312
Share This Publication
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
newsletter free of charge, they can submit their e-mail addresses in the
subscription box at the bottom right of the home page of our
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 !