Friday, December 3, 2010

Happy Holidays 2010

Alternative Dispute Resolution its Present & Future

Alternative Dispute Resolution its Present & Future

Nearly five years ago, I had the opportunity to take the basic course of mediation through UC Berkeley Extension and Mediator Ron Kelly.

The room was filled with attorneys students who sought a alternative to the route of litigation.

For me, it was a opportunity of using 33 years as a California Real Estate Broker and with an interest

in applying decades of experience and applying it to disputes involving real estate.

For the past decade, a trend seem to be occurring that the job market for lawyers was getting tighter.

I recall a conversation with an attorney who stated to me it was more cost effective hiring an attorney than a secretary.

I read articles that in the past five years and every year, more and more people graduate from law school and there are fewer and fewer jobs.

A recent article in Yahoo news talked of the shrinking job picture for judges.

Recently a article caught my interest that this is a “Gaping Hole” in the Legal Services for the middle class as it applies to targeted mass foreclosures and debt collection suits.

The article written University law professor Larry Ribstein thinks a change in lawyer regulations could help middle class defendants.

His thought was that he suggest favoring, a legal service sector regulation based on certification rather than licensing. In his view, a law license isn't necessarily needed to provide all kinds of legal help.

In my experience this may be the case with Alternative Dispute Resolution or mediation where both attorney and non-attorneys have blended their people and mediation skills in acting as “neutrals” and having parties craft settlements vs tying the hands of local courts.

A small rural county East of San Francisco, Tuolumne County has seen in excess of 75% settlement rates with a pilot Alternative Dispute Resolution program funded by a initial grant by Judicial Council of California AOC. In six months, that is over 100 cases that offered the public alternative and freeing time for the judicial officers.

Ribstein elaborated in an article with the American Bar Association Journal. “I'm not suggesting that we completely deregulate the practice of law”, I think the problem is not too much regulation or too little regulation, but that we are linked into a single business model that cant evolve.”

Perhaps one avenue is to combine law practice with nonlegal services.

This may be a good match for Alternative Dispute Resolution or Mediation.

Its a concept that is worthy of discussion in our law schools and the many who serve local community boards where mediation plays a increased role.

Its a concept that should be discussed with local bar associations and clearly adopted and supported with leaders such as the Alameda County Bar Association in Oakland, CA where both the legal and non-legal have established a bond in membership.

Its a concept that should be discussed openly for consideration at the 2010 Conference of Delegates

for non- partisan solutions to law related issues for the benefits of Californians.

Furthermore its a opportunity for the California AOC to consider long term funding vs seed money on the value of Alternative Dispute Resolution-Mediation on a local level.

The demand of conflict will increase, more parties will turn to Pro-Per and small claims, many attorneys will suggest that cases under $25,000 may not be cost effective and suggest mediation.

The present and future of mediation and demand for disputes and the overcrowding of our courtrooms

may bring about healthy changes, solutions for the future of opportunities for both those who are licensed attorneys and those who have been certified with non-legal services.

Jim W Hildreth Mediator.

Real Estate Mediation Services