Elder Mediation

Not sure if anyone saw this in the Wall Street Journal, but recently there was an article in it on Elder Mediation in California.

Some tidbits:
For years, divorcing couples have hired mediators to avoid court battles. Now, some mediators are starting to specialize in resolving disputes that relate to older adults, such as those over inheritances and caregiving.

"Elder mediation has started to take off over the past couple years," says Dana Curtis, an attorney who mediates disputes and trains elder mediators at Elder Mediation Group in Sausalito, Calif.

Families who hire an elder mediator often do so to save money. To work with a mediator in private practice, a family can expect to spend from $100 to $500 an hour. A national network of nonprofit "community mediation" services charge little to nothing.

In contrast, if a family opts to pursue a lawsuit, each party must retain an attorney.
And unlike court proceedings, the mediation process is confidential...

...Don't confuse mediation with group therapy, however. "To the extent that a mediator needs to deal with family dynamics, we do so. But the purpose of mediation is not to heal the relationships," says Ms. Curtis.

And if you are wondering if Ms. Curtis uses caucus often, keep reading:
Mediators also may provide information families can use to make decisions. For instance, when one family hired Ms. Curtis to referee a dispute over a child's request for an early inheritance, she helped them calculate how much they could afford to give the child -- after setting aside enough to cover the parents' needs and inheritances for the rest.

Read the entire article [HERE].
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PolIce & Community Mediation

The San Francisco Police Department's Chief of Police, George Gascon, recently met with the local Community Board to praise their efforts in helping resolve disputes.

According Gascon, "Generally, the solutions that come out of the criminal justice system aren't very good," while he praised their mediation program. [
read the article here]

As the article states, just about every town, city, and state are facing budget issues and an "outside the box" collaborative approach between Police Departments and community groups that offer mediation services, many of which are for free, can among many things help alleviate the burden of police responses to complaints. These complaints include noise and neighbor disputes.

Lorig Charkoudian did a study a five years ago detailing how the Baltimore Police Department's program to refer disputes to community mediation centers actually saved the department money. You can read about the study [

Among many benefits offered to police departments creating these collaborative initiatives include helping remove the feeling of helplessness on behalf of the the person making the complaint and the police stating they can not do anything/what the person wanted them to do since the alleged crime was not committed in the officer's presence.

Additionally, i think it opens the opportunity for the police departments to establish relationships with the local dispute resolution centers which can result in potential trainings and workshops for the officers to enhance their conflict resolution skills.
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(Proactive) Foreclosure Mediation Bill

I believe this might be a first- a State Bill in Vermont is suggesting mediation be required before a home goes into foreclosure.

From Businessweek.com: A bill passed by the Vermont House on Thursday seeks to address concerns like hers. It calls for mediation between lenders and homeowners before a home foreclosure goes forward.

From my understanding (and of course I could be wrong!) this is the first proposed Bill that is actually proactive in trying to prevent the filing for foreclosure. In the other 25 states, the foreclosure mediation programs provide mediation services after the house has gone into foreclosure.

It brings up many of issues, including why should a lender be prevented from filing until after a mediation session? Also, as with mediation in general, there is no way to compel the lender to negotiate in good faith.

The article adds:

Backers of the legislation in Vermont say the state did not see the widespread predatory lending seen in many parts of the country during the last decade, but the recession and mounting unemployment have meant a sharp rise in foreclosures anyway.

House Speaker Shap Smith, D-Morristown, said foreclosures in Vermont were up 50 percent from 2007 to 2009. Christopher D'Elia, president of the Vermont Bankers Association, said the state saw 1,924 foreclosure filings in 2009.

Read the full article [here]
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Mediation & People With Disabilities

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 doesn't live in New York City!), I plan to write a recap of each gathering I attend.

You can join the listserv by clicking [

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!

For March's description from the invitation, see below in italics.

Judy Cohen, Coordinator of the ADA Mediation Guidelines Work Group (1998-2000), will present an overview of mediating with people with disabilities. This session is appropriate for mediators with a range of experience in ADA mediation, including those without any experience. However, Q&A and discussion is geared for experienced mediators. The basis of the discussion will be the ADA Mediation Guidelines.

*Judy explained she is speaking on this topic because of a lack of understanding of how to interact with people with disabilities. (Something I agree with- communication creates understanding!)

*Started off by giving us 4 different handouts including the ADA Mediation Guidelines, one of her articles from mediate.com, a list of disability-related resources for mediators, and the Model Standards of Conduct for Mediators [Standard VI] from the American Bar Association. The latter was particularly good in that it compared the old language to the new language.

*She mentioned how learning how to work with individuals with a disability provides a framework/background. However, each individual is unique and thus there is not always one solution to each issue (much like the need for varied mediation tools).

*An example of adjusting to the needs of specific people: to help a person who is blind feel comfortable during a mediation, walk him/her around the room (getting familiar with his/her surroundings) and have everyone in the room introduce themselves (getting familiar with the voices/people present).

*She recalled how a blind person at the conclusion of mediation thanked everyone for not making a big deal of her service dog being present. The person remarked how they appreciated the fact that it was not another issue to deal with during the mediation.

*She mentioned how the ADA Mediation Guidelines are guidelines and not rules or standards. The current guidelines received over 200+ comments from all over the country.

*Disability access should be available to not just the party but also the process, e.g. allowing breaks for a person to get something to eat/drink if they have diabetes.

*The ADA guidelines handout has four sections: Program and Case Administration, Mediation Process, Mediator Training, and Mediation Ethics.

*The person handling the intake for cases should have the knowledge of how and what to say/not say.

She stressed today’s talk would not be about the laws involving persons with disabilities (however that did not stop a few law related questions!).
***A mediator can NOT charge more for added services such as sign language interpreters!

*If procedures are not in place, a person with a disability (PWD) could feel unwelcome.

*Question from the audience: “How do you handle an aggressive PWD?” She responded by saying there really is not much of a difference in response to an aggressive PWD and a non PWD aggressive person. She would use the same tools.

*Question from the audience: “What if a party is not acknowledging his/her own disability?” Her reply was as a mediator, if you see it, you could make adjustments such as using more visual aids. She stressed how like in any mediation, an effective mediator must be able to adjust to the needs of the parties.

*She stressed how she thinks visual aids help her immensely, especially in regards to mediations involving PWD.

*Mediation recruitment and training: the brief comment on this was she believed there should be broader and wider representation.

*Question from the audience: “What if one party calls the other ‘crazy’?” She would handle it like any other name calling during mediation.

*If there are resource people present in the mediation (e.g. medical expert), they should sit off to the side, not next to the mediator. They are there to help and ‘could be key to a resolution’.

*In PWD mediation cases, a family support person could help or hinder the process. She has experienced both situations so be aware of that.

*Audience comment: someone mentioned “semantic contagion” and the labeling condition makes a diagnosis appear more often. Judy agreed this is an important topic… for another day!

*Judy often brought up ‘reality testing’ as an effective tool during PWD mediations.

*In response to an audience member’s comment: Judy believes when mediating a case involving a PWD and a union issue, that accommodation trumps the collective bargaining agreement. Again, reality testing with the employer has worked well for her.

*Rights based mediation is a “big issue” and not just with the ADA.

*Judy mentioned how she put together a disability etiquette booklet and it is available for free. Just Google “united spinal”. An audience member mentioned how great the booklet is and how a pdf file of the booklet is available to be downloaded at that site.

From The Announcement
Judy Cohen, Coordinator of the ADA Mediation Guidelines Work Group (1998-2000), will present an overview of mediating with people with disabilities. This session is appropriate for mediators with a range of experience in ADA mediation, including those without any experience. However, Q&A and discussion is geared for experienced mediators. The basis of the discussion will be the ADA Mediation Guidelines.

Participants: please read the ADA Mediation Guidelines prior to the session which are available at http://www.cojcr.org/ada.html Please email requests to cover particular topics or questions for the session to Judy privately at judycohen@mediate.com.

Judy is a workplace consultant who provides a range of conflict management processes, including environmental assessments; coaching for management teams, supervisors and employees; group facilitation; conflict management and related training; and mediation of disputes involving EEO claims, discipline and discharge, interpersonal issues, and grievance mediation. She has specialized expertise in mediating disability–related disputes and in facilitating reasonable accommodation negotiations.
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Q & A With Charles L. Howard

I recently interviewed Charles L. Howard, author of The Organizational Ombudsman. I discussed with Chuck (he let me call him that) different aspects of the book, his motivation and how it can help you- if you are an ombuds, conflict professional, or someone interested in creating an ombuds office for your university or organization.

I hope you enjoy the 19 minute interview (see below). You can purchase his book and read more about it at the ABA site [here].

More on Chuck: Chuck Howard has extensive litigation experience in state and federal court in a wide range of matters, including over seventy appeals. His intellectual property litigation experience encompasses copyright, trademark, trade secret, covenant not to compete and patent litigation, including proceedings before the Trademark Trial and Appeal Board. His business and public sector litigation experience includes representation of the State of Connecticut, quasi-public state agencies, municipalities, and business clients in many diverse matters.

Read Charle's full biography [here]

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Cafe Mediate- Mediation Training Podcast

(from www.CafeMediate.com)

How much mediation training do you need to hang out a shingle and call yourself a mediator? What constitutes good mediation training? Experienced mediators Diane Levin, Amanda Bucklow, Tammy Lenski, Victoria Pynchon and Jeff Thompson of Cafe Mediate share their answers to these questions and more in the latest episode.

[Listen Here] [Subscribe With iTunes] [Subscribe via RSS] [Subscribe Via Email]

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