From the Director
remember when you first fell in love – with ADR?
found my love about 15 years ago, when I was a summer associate at a
respected litigation firm. I should’ve been a grateful law
student, having landed a coveted summer position. But within a
few days, I realized that I was a stranger in a strange land.
This firm was wall-to-wall warriors, beating their breastplates,
roaring their roars and chomping at the chance to humiliate their
hated opponents. (The men were like that, too.) The partners
were no less embattled than the young guns. And all of those
hyped-up litigators percolated 24/7 in that logic-defying,
soul-crushing financial pressure cooker called the “billable hour”
system. The resulting aroma of testosterone and terror would
practically curl your nose hairs when you stepped out of the elevator.
Not my favorite perfume – for day or evening.
all that sturm und drang for what? To resolve disputes in
a system that proscribes open, candid communication among disputants?
That takes control of the resolution away from the disputants and
gives it to total strangers? That seems designed to cause
disputants more anguish and aggravation in resolving their disputes
than in creating them? This made no sense to me. But a job
in litigation, at a prestigious firm like this, I was told was the
pinnacle of what I could aspire to as a new lawyer. Ignorant of
other options, I became despondent. The prospect of returning to
law school was looking grimmer by the minute.
salvation came unexpectedly in the form of that year’s last summer
associate seminar, on something cryptically called “ADR.” With
nothing to lose, I attended. The presenters were a partner at
the firm and a retired judge who had become a “mediator,” whatever
that was. Mediators help parties to resolve their disputes
themselves, the speakers explained, by encouraging them – and their
attorneys – to communicate and collaborate to find mutually agreeable
resolutions. The parties then can settle their disputes under
their own control, on their own unique terms, and thus can do it
faster, cheaper and with better results and greater satisfaction than
if they had litigated. “Mediation” was relatively new to the
law, I learned that day. Yet the Georgia judiciary had recently
created a system within the courts that actually promoted the use of
mediation and arbitration as productive alternatives to going to
I couldn’t believe what I was hearing. This stuff actually made
sense. This ADR was part of the same system that promoted
litigation? Why hadn’t I heard of this mediation stuff before?
“You mean I can be a lawyer and do this kind of work?” I said to my
stunned self. In an instant, the clouds of my despair blew away
and the light of edification shone on me. In my most uncertain
hour, my career path became clear: I will become a lawyer, and I will
become a mediator, and I will work to spread the wisdom of mediation
and ADR to my fellow lawyers and citizens. That was my “summer of
Thereafter, I focused my law studies on ADR, thanks to a professor who
literally wrote the book on ADR in Georgia. My work in the field
as a mediator, trainer, lecturer, and administrator has reinforced my
love of and respect for mediation. I’ve been fortunate to meet
and work with many terrific mediators (“terrific mediators” may be
redundant, but so what). I’ve even met many enlightened
litigators who don’t smell at all like testosterone and terror, who
understand that ADR is a handy tool – often the best tool – that smart
lawyers can use to help their clients solve their problems. How
can’t imagine what I would be doing today if I had missed that fateful
final summer associate seminar. My best buddy from law school
and I would often joke that if we didn’t graduate, our credentials
would at best qualify us to blurt out, “Would you like fries with
that?” a couple hundred times a day.
Robert Frost wrote:
Two roads diverged in a
wood, and I—
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.
I know exactly what he meant.
us your ADR “love story,” and we might just print it
Case Watch: The Ex is Moving and Taking the Kids
To ruin a parent’s day,
just tell him or her that the ex-spouse is moving away – and planning
to take the kids, too. Yeah, don’t even joke about it, right? And,
just a thought: does a Georgia parent – even a custodial parent – have
the legal right to just up and move away with the kids? Mary Ellen
Cates, divorce attorney and registered mediator, has the answer, as
well as advice for mediators on how to help divorced and divorcing
parents wrestle with the difficult issues around relocation. Her cases
analyses this month focus on the Georgia Supreme Court decisions in
Bodne v. Bodne and
Salmon-Davis v. Davis.
Marketing Tip: Why Content Counts for Website Success
As your mother may have
told you, to be popular it isn’t enough to be good looking. You have
to have substance to back up your style. That’s true for your company
website, too. Marketing specialist and registered mediator Michele
Gibson will show you how beefing up your website’s content can help
drive more traffic to it and bring you more business. In this month’s
Marketing Tip, she’ll show you how your website can become a
destination – a site people think of and seek out because it
consistently offers timely and useful information to visitors.
Theory to Practice: Smells Like Team Spirit
Remember Gordon Gecko in
“Wall Street” and his iconic soliloquy on the driving force of
humankind? “Greed ... is good. Greed is right. Greed works. Greed
clarifies, cuts through and captures the essence of the evolutionary
spirit.” But some of us (we’re ADR professionals, after all) are
uncomfortable with the notion that we are nothing more than viciously
selfish monsters scrabbling for a foothold in the competition of life.
Well, fear not, you idealists. In this month’s Theory to Practice
column, Gregory Jones, Faculty Research Fellow and Director of
Research at the Consortium on Negotiation and Conflict Resolution,
will point you to new research that shows that we humans can indeed
work for the common good – given the right conditions.
Facebook Fans: “Like” the Georgia Mediators Network
Mediator Michele Gibson (who also helps us produce this newsletter)
has created a Facebook page for Georgia mediators. On the new Georgia
Mediators Network page, she posts daily news stories about mediation
from around the world. The site was created as a place where
mediators can share material that will help the public understand what
mediation is and what it can do. If you’re on Facebook and you “like”
the site, then the stories will show up in your personal news feed.
After you “share” the stories, all your own Facebook friends will see
them. You don't have to be limited to Facebook either - feel
free to take the links and post them on LinkedIn, Plaxo, your firm
website or newsletter. The more mediators using this content and
sharing the stories, the more the public knows about mediation.
Learn More About
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Need a good deal on
professional liability insurance for mediators and arbitrators? See
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you’re a Georgia registered neutral!
Georgia ADR Blog:
Evaluation of Mediator Technique in “Fairly Legal”
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:
The latest post is DeFreytas’s tongue-in-cheeck evaluation of
mediator technique displayed by fictional mediator Kate Reed in the
new TV show, “Fairly Legal.”
New Website, Newsletter for State Bar DR Section
Our good friends in the
Dispute Resolution Section of the State Bar of Georgia have created a
new website to go with their new online newsletter.
The purpose of the new website is to try
to assemble in one place dispute resolution CLE opportunities and
current DR law developments and to provide general information about
the section. You can also sign up for the newsletter and see back
issues. Check it out at
Upcoming CE and Training Offerings
wait until the 2011 renewal season to get your CEs. Check frequently
website for the latest CE
and training offerings. Remember, any 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.
Back Issues Available Online
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