Mediating a Feud: The Problem of Envisioning Future Effects

By Donald L. Swanson Feuding parties are blinded by their feud. And they cannot envision the future of their feud with accuracy. An Ancient Illustration from London A recent essay [Fn. 1] provides details of a multi-year feud between London-area grocers, back in the early 1600s. That feud involved two lawsuits, a criminal complaint, and extensive... Continue Reading →

Relativity: Defining “Success” for Multi-Party Mediation in Chapter 11

By: Donald L. Swanson “I stand at the window of a railway carriage which is traveling uniformly, and drop a stone on the embankment . . . I see the stone descend a straight line. A pedestrian who observes the misdeed from the footpath notices that the stone falls to the earth in a parabolic curve.... Continue Reading →

“Voluntary” Ideal Leads to Under-Utilization of Court-Connected Mediation Programs: An Experiment Solution

By: Donald L Swanson In many courts, these days, mediation reigns supreme. This is so-much-so that, court reporters complain about mediation cutting into their business; judges complain about cases settling in mediation and no one trying cases any more; and attorneys in casual conversations commonly talk about preparations for and successes in mediation, not trial. Such... Continue Reading →

Getting Mediators Approved and Paid in Bankruptcy

By Donald L. Swanson Every now and then a mediator gets stiffed on fees.  It doesn’t happen often.  But it happens.  And it’s always a shame. Mediators of bankruptcy disputes have an additional payment-related hurdle they must navigate.  The hurdle is this: --Advance court approval is required for getting paid from bankruptcy funds. Statutory Requirements... Continue Reading →

Mediating Business Disputes: Caucus Format is Unfortunate

By: Donald L. Swanson Should a mediation be in joint session or caucus? For mediating business disputes, joint session is the better approach—by far. I’ll try to explain. Two Observations Here are two observation about the joint session vs. caucus method for mediating business disputes. 1. People with little-or-no experience in mediation tend to expect a mediation... Continue Reading →

What To Do When A Party Is Secretly Taping A Mediation Session

By: Donald L. Swanson The State of New York has a “Mediator Ethics Advisory Committee.” A mediator asked this Committee for an advisory opinion on what to do in the following circumstances (here's its opinion). Facts During a private session, the mediator notices that a party has a tape recorder on her lap. The mediator asks if... Continue Reading →

Effect of Interruptions on Decision Making: Implications for Mediation?

By: Donald L. Swanson “Interruptions increase risk taking by reducing apprehension.” From “The Effect of an Interruption on Risk Decisions” [Fn. 1]. Seven studies by three professors focus on the effect of a brief interruption that occurs when a person is confronted by the need to make a risky financial decision. My point in this article... Continue Reading →

Creativity in Mediation: An Important Role

By: Donald L. Swanson Here are a couple assumptions: Mediation is a creative process: it allows parties to think outside the box, discuss underlying issues, and customize a creative resolution. Adjudication, by contrast, is not: it resolves specific issues identified in pleadings. A Study A study titled “Creativity in Court-Connected Mediation: Myth or Reality?” [Fn. 1]... Continue Reading →

A Mediator/Arbitrator Malpractice Lawsuit: Haven’t Seen This Before!

By: Donald L. Swanson This doesn’t happen every day: A mediator’s engagement agreement authorizes the mediator to arbitrate disputes about any settlement agreement the parties might reach in mediation; The mediation achieves a settlement agreement, but a dispute arises over an alleged mistake in the agreement document; and The mediator attempts to arbitrate the dispute and... Continue Reading →

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