We woke this morning to another terrible tragedy, this time striking our Pepperdine family. While the news is early, and details are few, what is clear is that the lives of many Pepperdine students have been cut tragically short. Our hearts are with Pepperdine in this time of mourning.
Just a few short days ago, Straus Institute Chair Sukhsimranjit Singh spoke to our Conference on the need to make principled stands. We were honored that he stood with us then, and all of us with SCMA stand with Pepperdine today.
For those of us who have the privilege of working with students, we see in them so much promise, so much potential, and imagine all that lies ahead for them. But too many have just lost their tomorrows, their best days. For we who remain, let us recommit ourselves to the mission of peace, humanity, and greater understanding.
In the days ahead, reach out to those you know at Pepperdine. Share with them a silent moment, a tear, a prayer, a memory, or a hope.
It was my great pleasure to serve you during the last year as your President. It was a year of tremendous growth for SCMA, both in membership and its geographic boundaries, and I want to thank all of you for your support and encouragement. Leading SCMA has challenged me both personally and professionally and I hope that all of you believe that I met those challenges successfully.
I challenged myself to break new ground for the organization by using my business and entrepreneurial background to transform it into something that will be positioned to serve the community for many years in the future. Much of the organizational decision making had devolved into one-year planning cycles, totally dependent upon the current President, and while perhaps convenient, it deprived SCMA and its members of the benefits of long-term planning and initiatives. I vowed to collaboratively share the decision making and create an organizational structure that would not change with every Presidential term. We brought in budgets and strategic plans, all designed to ensure that membership dollars were spent in places that would have the greatest impact for our membership. We now have organizational charts and missions for each Board Committee, expectations, and responsibilities. Most of the results of this may not be fully realized until years from now, but we went from serving fewer than 500 in our annual programming, including our Annual Conference, to serving close to 1000. We have innovated with webinar programming and created stronger relationships with organizations near and dear to us, including California State University at Dominguez Hills, Pepperdine University Law School, the University of Southern California Gould School of Law, and our Advanced Track sponsors, the American Arbitration Association’s mediation.org.
I took a “sabbatical” in the spring from my teaching activities to devote myself to the tasks at hand, and I worked it as I would work any job—even a volunteer one—but I sure had unbelievable support. First, there were the President whisperers—a group of past SCMA Presidents who were always there for me if I needed help. Jason Harper, Floyd Siegal, Wendy Kramer, Phyllis Pollack, and Barbara Brown all took time to lend me a hand (or an ear) when needed, and I cannot thank them enough. Yes, I had the ability and “know how” to perhaps do some things here that had not been accomplished before, but none of it could have come to fruition without their support.
Your next President, Angela Reddock-Wright, took an amazing step with me last fall in sharing the responsibility for being a change agent, and not only has she been a great help, she will be a wonderful leader for SCMA. Andy Shelbytook on the Membership Committee with enthusiasm, and all year we have been at record levels in membership. Susan Guthrie, traveling between San Diego and Chicago, revitalized our Communications Committee, and Noah Stein (Treasurer) and Leslie Kushner (Secretary) gave strong support to our Executive Committee. Terri Breer took the entrepreneurial reins on a new Family Mediation Institute in Orange County, spreading our geographic wings and sparking our membership there. Mitch Tarighati continued to support and nurture our Mentorship Program, Jim Cameron and Mark Lemke led our efforts to network with bar associations, and Richard Erhard, Dale Ordas, and Ana Sambold all helped us establish a stronger nexus to the mediation community in San Diego. Recently elected new Board members Kelly Morfordand Joseph Jeong will add their skills to our great group and keep us moving forward.
But it takes a lot more than just Board members to help SCMA make a difference in our community. Many volunteers serve on committees and devote enormous amounts of time to SCMA, all to the betterment of our community. We have honored some members with President’s awards at our Annual Conference who have not run for our 2019 SCMA Board, but devote volunteer time because they want to help enrich our lives. But there are countless others…thank you for all your dedication, and I only regret that space limitations prevent me from mentioning everyone.
I hope to follow the example of our past Presidents by continuing to serve SCMA, but also do not want to get in the way of our wonderful new leadership team! Perhaps I will be called upon to be a “President whisperer!” I humbly pledge to do my best to continue to devote time to our community and make it a better place in which all of us choose to work.
Until we see each other again, thank you again for all your support.
“Striving for Excellence: The Emergence of the Modern Mediator,” the theme for our Annual Conference next month, has so much meaning for me as I continue to work with MC3 to more closely align the standards for our mediation field with the requirements the public expects from any profession. What does it mean for you? Does it mean incorporating the latest technology into your mediation practice, either in your business, marketing, or in your mediations? Does it mean trying to facilitate discussion, or mediating, with difficult personalities and subjects in the ever-changing landscape of public discourse? Join Ken Cloke, Forrest “Woody” Mosten, Wendy Kramer, and, of course, our Cloke-Millen award winner Avis Ridley-Thomas and our Lowry award winner Professor Lisa Klerman in a variety of activities and workshops this November 2 and 3. A complete description of the workshops is available here, and our Advanced Track for commercial mediators led by the American Arbitration Association (AAA) and AAAmediation.org is here. Early registration ends this week, so don’t miss out on large savings. As I write this, there are still some copies left of Ken Cloke’s latest book, “Politics, Dialogue and the Evolution of Democracy: How to Discuss Race, Abortion, Immigration, Gun Control, Climate Change, Same Sex Marriage and Other Hot Topics,” available at 50% off for those of you interested in talking with Ken at the conference and participating in his book signing.
SCMA is so thankful for the exceptional support and cooperation we have from three different universities: California State University at Dominguez Hills, Pepperdine University, and the University of Southern California. In addition to assisting in sponsoring this conference, each university is sending a distinguished member of their faculty and leadership teams to form a panel to talk about our core theme as part of AAA President & CEO India Johnson’s closing plenary to the conference. The Pisces dreamer (me!) knows that if we are ever to achieve elevating our field to a profession, it is that very kind of partnership between the universities and the practitioners that can help make it happen. A century ago that kind of partnership between the law schools (American Association of Law Schools, AALS) and the practitioners (American Bar Association, ABA) helped the legal field become a profession!
I hope I have an opportunity to see everyone at the Annual Conference. It has been such a joy to serve as your President this year, and I look forward to thanking all of you for your support. Your support has meant a lot to me, and of course, I am very excited about the induction of President-Elect Angela Reddock-Wright into the role of President. She has been amazing in putting together the 30th anniversary Annual Conference and moving us forward as an organization, and I look forward to joining with you and supporting her 2019 term!
Have a great month of October and we will see you in November.
On September 11, 2018, Governor Jerry Brown signed SB 954 which (when it takes effect on January 1, 2019) will require attorneys to inform their clients of the confidentiality restrictions related to mediation and to obtain their clients’ written acknowledgment that this disclosure has been made to them and that they understand it.
While this requirement does not apply to class or representative actions, it does apply, “…as soon as reasonably possible before the client agrees to participate in the mediation or mediation consultation.”(Section 1129(a).) At that time, the attorney shall “… provide that client with a printed disclosure containing the confidentiality restrictions described in Section 1119 and obtain a printed acknowledgment signed by that client stating that he or she has read and understands the confidentiality restrictions.” (Id.)
The new statute contains a sample disclosure form that if used, will provide a “safe harbor” such that the disclosure requirements will be deemed met. ( Section 1129(d).)
Significantly, the failure of an attorney to comply with this new law will NOT provide a basis to set aside an agreement prepared for, in the course of, or pursuant to a mediation. (Section 1129(e).) But, so long as the disclosure form “… does not disclose anything said or done or any admission made in the course of the mediation”, it will not be deemed confidential and thus “…may be used in an attorney disciplinary proceeding to determine whether the attorney has complied with Section 1129.” (Section 1122(a)(3).)
This new bill grew out of the decision in Cassel v Superior Court, (2011) 51 Cal. 4th, 113, 119 Cal Rptr. 3d 437 in which the Supreme Court declared that the policy underlying mediation confidentiality overrides the ability of a party to a mediation to sue his attorney for alleged professional negligence occurring at the mediation. In his reluctant concurring opinion, Justice Chin noted that while he agreed with the majority that the Court must give full effect to the statutory language, perhaps the Legislature did not fully consider the law’s effect of fully shielding attorneys from accountability in this way and that perhaps there is a better way to counter balance the competing interests of confidentiality and accountability. (Id. at 51 Cal 4th at 139.)
This concurring opinion led to the introduction of AB 2025 (in February 2012) to create an exception to mediation confidentiality for legal malpractice. After initially being introduced, the bill faced extreme opposition to the point that it was amended (in May 2012) to refer the matter to the California Law Revision Commission to study the matter and make a recommendation. Five years and over 3,000 pages of memoranda later, it issued a Tentative Recommendation in June 2017 for public comment. It was met with over whelming opposition and thus its proposed new bill was never introduced into the Legislature in the fall of 2017.
However, most parties involved in this process agreed that parties to mediation should be made aware ahead of time of the confidentiality provisions and their consequences; most predominantly, that whatever occurs during a mediation or in a strategy session leading up to the mediation will not be admissible in a subsequent malpractice action. (That is, some form of “prior disclosure” or “informed consent”.)
Hence the introduction in January 2018 and subsequent enactment of SB 954. It provides that transparency so that parties attending mediation go in with eyes wide open, aware that if the mediation does not go the way they want, they cannot later take their disappointment out on their attorney by suing for legal malpractice.
Hopefully, this proactive measure will help increase a party’s satisfaction with the mediation process and its outcome.
SCMA is delighted to announce that Founding Member and noted mediator and author, Kenneth Cloke, will be the Opening Plenary Speaker for our 30th Annual Mediation Conference! Ken is a world-recognized mediator, dialogue facilitator, conflict resolution systems designer, teacher, and has been a pioneer and leader in the field of mediation for almost 40 years.
In his speech, Ken will cover the timely subject matter of his latest book “Politics, Dialogue & the Evolution of Democracy”. As a further benefit to conference attendees, and due to the generous sponsorship of SCMA President Jack Goetz and his company Educational Solutions 4 Change, and SCMA President-Elect and her company the Reddock Law Group, we have a special offer for conference attendees!
The first 100 registrants of this year’s Annual Conference will receive PRIORITY to purchase Ken’s book at 50% off and will have the opportunity to attend Ken’s exclusive book signing during the conference luncheon on Saturday!
To receive this special offer you must:
Be one of the first 100 attendees to register for the 2018 Annual Conference
Once registered, attendees will receive a link from SCMA to go online, reserve and pay the 1/2 price, while supplies last!
September is a month associated with learning for me. It is a new academic year (well, actually, my first class this fall was August 20!) and as my family points out, I have spent most of my life either working towards a degree or teaching in a degree program! At SCMA, it is our month to start putting together the largest gathering of mediators in the region as we host our Annual Conference at the LA Hotel on November 2 and 3 at the LA Hotel. For me, I am like a kid in a candy store when it comes to helping our President-elect, Angela Reddock-Wright, and our immediate Past President, Jason Harper, put together the program.
First I start dreaming…who would I like to see? In mediation, I dream big…in my ideal world, I would like to have Ken Cloke at the conference, because I feel like I am a better human being after every time I talk with him. Then I would sure like Woody Mosten, because he is such a master teacher. But I keep dreaming…having a revered name in community mediation, Avis Ridley-Thomas, would be fantastic, but I also so respect what former SCMA President Wendy Kramer has done in helping mediators build their practices. And then if I could have my colleague, Professor Lisa Klerman there as well, someone from whom I have learned so much. Those of you who saw her opening remarks at our Employment Mediation Institute in May know just what I mean.
Okay, you can pinch me and wake me up now, and yes, our SCMA Conference this fall is all those great speakers and many more. And to further add the American Arbitration Association and their mediate.org division putting on our Advanced Track, with AAA’s President and CEO, India Johnson, combining on a closing plenary with some of our friends at California State University at Dominguez Hills, Pepperdine, and USC, I think my candy appetite will be satiated! I join with the membership in thanking Angela and our Executive Director, Anne Sawyer, in putting all of this together.
With the divisiveness across the United States so prevalent today, it has made us all “up our game” in facilitating dialogue in our peacemaking. The Conference theme, “The Emergence of the Modern Mediator,” allows us to tackle those issues head-on. In part, the release of Ken Cloke’s latest book, “Politics, Dialogue and the Evolution of Democracy: How to Discuss Race, Abortion, Immigration, Gun Control, Climate Change, Same Sex Marriage and Other Hot Topics,” has given us a special opportunity to open our Conference with Ken speaking to those very issues. As a special treat, my company (Educational Solutions 4 Change) and Angela’s firm (Reddock Law Group) are sponsoring paying ½ the cost for Ken’s book for the first 100 registrants for the Conference and Ken has agreed to a lunch-time book signing for attendees who are interested.
I look forward to seeing everyone at the Conference. In the meantime, we have had more interest in serving on the SCMA Board than we can recall in recent history, with three incumbents amongst nine candidates running for five open seats. I am so gratified by the interest in our community in volunteering to continue to further the amazing work of our non-profit organization. And if you were not amongst the group that is running for the Board, perhaps we can get the benefit of your insight by getting you to vote! Ballots will be sent out within the next week, and we need our membership to participate; so please, help us the best way you can by voting for your ongoing leadership.
On August 9th SCMA Members, Past Presidents, Board Members and friends gathered at the Bonaventure in downtown LA for the SMCA 2018 Annual Summer Mixer. Held on the beautiful outdoor private patio of the Bonaventure Brewing Company the event celebrated our SCMA members and gave everyone a chance to network, laugh and have some fun with colleagues and friends. Recent graduates of the SCMA Mentorship Program were introduced and received their Graduation Certificates.
The highlight of the evening was the presentation of the 2017 SCMA President’s Award by current President Dr. Jack Goetz and Past-President Jason Harper to Forrest “Woody” Mosten who was honored for his work in providing divorce mediation training as well as commemorating the 10th year of the SCMA Education Foundation which was created in his honor. The SCMA Education Foundation provides conflict resolution libraries to dispute resolution centers, non-profits and universities. Woody’s acceptance speech highlighted the future of mediation as he encouraged the mentees who had been acknowledged earlier to share with us their hopes and goals for their future mediation practices. The Foundation also had a highly successful fundraising “Wine Pull” at the Soiree where donated wines were sold off to attendees who paid $25 each “pull” of a bottle off of the table without being able to see the label. This mystery wine event was a big hit! Overall, it was another wonderful SCMA event and great opportunity to meet, network and dialog with mediators and supporting professionals from Los Angeles, Orange and San Diego Counties!