After a somewhat Covid-19 delayed application, Michael has now been certified as a circuit mediator by the Florida Supreme Court. Michael looks forward to working with parties with this new certification, both through in-person and Zoom meetings.
Many litigators, and not a few mediators, think that openings in mediation are a waste of time.
They are wrong.
Here's why: openings are the best time for the mediator to ensure a common understanding of the issues and the terms that describe the issues. A perfect example of this came up recently in a breach of contract suit. All of the attorneys insisted on skipping openings. It was not until three hours had passed that it became clear that the parties were talking past each other. The first party viewed the word "process" as encompassing an enormous amount of work by programmers, analysts and others. The second party thought of "process" as simply pressing a button. The first party was mediating on the basis that use of their "process" completed their contractual duties. The second party came to the mediation with the view that the "process" was simply a mechanical issue of no value, and that the results of that process were the metric by which to measure.
Had the parties given opening statements, it would have been clear that they were not arguing on the same basis. A basic tenet of contract law is meeting of the minds. A clear opening statement allows the mediator to assess whether there is a meeting of the minds on what is the actual dispute.
Fortunately, there are options that can reduce the suck. After 20 years of litigating, I'm starting Morris ADR to help people avoid court and resolve their issues quickly, fairly and less expensively. There are a lot of mediators and arbitrators out there, and many of them are good, some are great. I bring a unique set of skills to the table. In addition to decades of litigation experience, I have been working with computers for decades and earned an LL.M. in Information Technology and the Law from the University of Edinburgh. When I decided that it would be useful for an attorney to have a formal background in rhetoric, I earned a M.S. in Communication from Ball State University specializing in rhetoric and persuasion- useful attributes for a litigator, arbitrator or mediator.
In the future, I will be putting out short blogs on mediation, arbitration or anything else I think is relevant and useful. Let me know if there is anything you would like to see addressed in a blog post.