It's July and I am on the road again this month! This time I'll be traveling to Bridgeport, West Virginia to join a group of distinguished mediators and judges to address the topic of "Resolution Beyond Trial.” My topic? What every lawyer needs to know about alternative dispute resolution.
New Options in the 21st Century. In the thirty years that I've practiced law, I've watched attorneys work hard to keep up-to-date on changing statutes and new cases from the Supreme Court. It's not enough! We also need to be up-to-date on developing changes in the field of Alternative Dispute Resolution. These changes provide options for our 21st-century clients that were rarely available in the past. And it is not enough to know that they exist, attorneys need to understand them and provide the information to clients to be able to make an informed decision about whether litigation is the best option for them, particularly when the case is likely not to go to trial.
A Trial is no longer the “Go To” way to resolve a legal conflict. Less than five percent of civil cases result in a trial. Resolution of the other 95% of cases is occurring through another process, such negotiation, mediation, or arbitration, all of which are forms of “Alternative Dispute Resolution.” (ADR) Trial is no longer the “go-to” way to resolve legal problems.
Attorneys must detail the options to clients. In developing my topic, I worked with Chairperson Monica Haddad and titled the session “ADR is not an Alternative Anymore-What Every Lawyer Should Know about ADR.” I have wanted to take on this topic because I've discovered that attorneys do not consistently and adequately inform clients about the opportunities for the multiple processes available. The highly interactive program will introduce participants to processes such as collaborative divorce, restorative justice, transformative mediation, and arbitration.
Lawyers have an obligation to understand these various means for resolution and to inform their clients about these options. Our client’s time and energy, the increased costs, and the unknown outcome that accompany a trial are often outweighed by the efficiency, cost savings, and outcome control offered by these other means for resolution.
The ethical rules that lawyers must follow require that clients make important decisions. Those decisions are not limited to deciding outcomes, but also processes. I am excited that my profession has developed to include so many ways to address legal conflicts and look forward to sharing that excitement with others.
Other participants provide expertise in many areas of ADR. The Honorable Michael John Aloi and the Honorable Christopher C. Wilkes will address the topic of Court Conducted Mediation. Attorney Lyne Ranson of Charleston, West Virginia and Scott Curnutte of Elkins, will discuss Family Court Mediation. Jay Arceneaux, also of Charleston, will review the details of arbitration with participants. Honorable Joanna Tabit will take on the problematic topic of implicit bias in mediation. Rounding out the day-long training will be Don O’Dell of Huntington, Thomas G. Steele of Clarksburg, Monica Hassif Haddad, of Morgantown and Charles S. Piccirillo, of Madison in a panel discussion on making the most of mediation for clients.
If you are interested in learning more about this program, or any form of ADR contact me!