Mediation Lesson from Northern Ireland Peace Process: Finding Core Principles is the First and Primary Task

By Donald L. Swanson Several years after the end of World War I, Winston Churchill penned these words about Northern Ireland: “The whole map of Europe has changed, but as the deluge subsides and the waters fall short, we see the dreary steeples of Fermanagh and Tyrone emerging once again. The integrity of their quarrel is... Continue Reading →

The Problem of Representing a Small-Player in a Multi-Party Mediation

By: Donald L. Swanson Have you ever been in a multi-party mediation representing a small-player in the dispute. I don’t mean your party is “small”: I mean that your party’s position in the over-all dispute (while extremely important to the client) is viewed by others as a lower-tier issue. I have. And it’s a difficult situation:... Continue Reading →

“Vital” Role of Mediator: Tony Blair and the Northern Ireland Peace Process

By Donald L. Swanson “The conflict won’t be resolved by the parties if left to themselves. If it were possible for them to resolve it on their own, they would have done so. Ergo, they need outside help.” Tony Blair, A Journey: My Political Life, 189, Alfred A. Knopf, 2010 Chapter 6 of Tony Blair’s memoir... Continue Reading →

“Hallway Mediation” for Multi-Party Disputes that are Stuck and Going Nowhere

"Hallway Mediation" is this: Putting multi-party disputants into a room to talk about their disputes, with the mediator orchestrating (or maybe it's refereeing) the event. I call it "Hallway Mediation" because that's where I first saw it happen and learned to do it: in the hallways outside the Bankruptcy Courtrooms in Omaha, Lincoln and North... Continue Reading →

Proactive Mediator + Settlement Counsel = How it Should be Done in Difficult Cases

By: Donald L. Swanson A typical lawsuit mediation involves a passive mediator dealing with litigation attorneys: --Passive mediators must wait to be engaged and then assist with disputes the parties identify; and --Litigation attorneys are fighting the case in court—they are active belligerents. So . . . the practical effect, in a typical lawsuit mediation, is... Continue Reading →

An Early Mediation Intervention Brings Order Out of Chaos

By: Donald L. Swanson Here’s a scenario where early mediation intervention works: We’re at the beginning of a Chapter 11 case with lots of competing interests.  Everyone is in a fight-every-battle mode—and there are lots of battles to fight.  We’re past the initial flurry of motions for use of cash collateral and relief from stay,... Continue Reading →

Proactive Mediation is Becoming Standard: The Syngenta Example

By: Donald L. Swanson In a remarkable demonstration of cooperation and coordination, three separate courts (both Federal and State) enter proactive mediation orders and appoint the same mediator in three related cases. Fact Background The cases involve a genetically modified strain of corn developed and marketed by Syngenta.  The new strain gets regulatory approval from... Continue Reading →

10 Practical Lessons for Cities Facing Bankruptcy – From a New Ninth Circuit Ruling

By: Donald L. Swanson The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, in a new ruling, helps point-the-way for cities facing the complexities of Chapter 9 bankruptcy. The Facts On March 28, 2003, three citizens of Vallejo, California, have a violent encounter with two of Vallejo’s police officers.  A lawsuit ensues. Then, the City of Vallejo files... Continue Reading →

ACTION ITEM: From Preparing for Multiparty Mediation — Part Three

Action Item.  Issues relating to first offer arrangements, non-monetary terms, settlement documentation, number of sessions, and use of an assistant mediator need to be discussed in advance by the mediator with parties and their attorneys to prepare for multiparty mediation sessions. Advance communications on subjects identified in this three-part series will significantly enhance the efficiency... Continue Reading →

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