NYC-DR Roundtable Recap, August 2009


For those who miss the monthly NYC-DR Roundtable Breakfast meetings sponsored by ACRGNY and John Jay College due to schedules (yes, we are all very busy conflict resolvers) or due to locations (I guess everyone can not be in New York City), I plan to write a recap of each gathering I attend.

Note 1: this is not an official recap nor is it intended to be one but rather it is just a posting of my notes and recollection from the day.

Note #2: For this month I credit Maria Volpe for contributing to this recap as well as editing it... Thanks!

I hope you enjoy and feedback is always welcome!

The August 6, 2009 NYC-DR Roundtable sponsored by ACR GNY and John Jay College continued the trend of "BIG". Just like the previous month, this meeting had to be switched to a larger room (which is a good thing). Over 60 people attended to hear Gerald P. Lepp, ADR Administrator of the Eastern District New York Courts.

Mr. Lepp spoke about how he started the program 17 years ago. He credited Maria Volpe with playing a significant role in assisting him with developing the program.

He believes mediators are entitled to be paid for their service and the Local Rule 83.11 recently amended by the Board of Judges (on July 7th, 2009) agreed with him. In passing the Rule, the judges also realized there were two key issues:

1) Mediators should be paid.
2) If parties were unable or unwilling to pay the fee, they could apply to the referring judge for a waiver of the fee, with a right of appeal to the district judge

Mr. Lepp stated by having the application go directly to the District Judge, the number of false applications being filed would be reduced.

* The fee will be paid by both parties. The mediators will be paid $600 for the first 4 hours; $250 for each additional hour. The mediators are not paid for any preparation work.

* The mediators are chosen by both parties. When they are not able to agree, Mr. Lepp sends out a notice to the roster of mediators and then forwards the names of those mediators who are interested to the parties. If a mediator is still not agreed on, then the board of Judges chooses one.

* The mediators also perform Pro Bono work which is decided by the discretion of the judge.

* The Eastern District is not currently accepting new applications for mediators. They have a roster of about 200 people and Mr. Lepp feels they deserve an opportunity to participate first. He believes they may be accepting new applications beginning 1/1/10.

* Most cases go for one day and 2/3's are settled.

* Requirements for the mediators:
1) Must be a lawyer.
2) Must have 5 years of practice.
3) Must be a member of a State or the D.C. Bar.
4) Must have at least 16 hours of mediation training.
5) Must be interviewed by Mr. Lepp.
6) Must be approved by the Board of Judges.

Information from Mr. Lepp during the Q & A:

* The Eastern District also has arbitration which has a 2/3's success rate.

* The mediation program averages 15 cases per month.

* His staff is small- it is only him and the two interns who are about to finish their internship. Those who are interested in interning should send a letter and resume to Mr. Lepp. He noted he is looking for people with computer skills as well as someone interested in interacting- not research.

* In regards to why just lawyers as the mediator: Mr. Lepp stated most programs require mediators to also be lawyers and he personally agrees with this.

* You can visit their website to see a bio of the mediators http://www.nyed.uscourts.gov/adr/Mediation/displayAll.cfm. This is one way in which the parties can educate themselves when choosing their mediator.

* Only experienced mediators should apply (when they start accepting applications again). Mr. Lepp stressed this is not the place to get experience.

* Training is coordinated with outside companies and universities. Mr. Lepp feels a more formal structure needs to be in place to update members on issues and news.

* Diversity of the roster: Mr. Lepp believes that with respect to gender, the roster is balanced. However, he does not think that it is balanced regarding race and ethnicity. He has tried in the past to correct this by reaching out to various ethnic Bar Association groups but has had little success. The Program does not maintain personal data on its mediators.

* No mediator has ever been called to testify in court from his program.

Quote of the Day:
"We really have come a long way."

For more information on the United States District Court of the Eastern District of New York Mediation Program, go to
http://www.nyed.uscourts.gov/adr/Mediation/mediation.html

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