President’s Message May 2012
Dear Colleagues –
Thank you so very much to all those of you who responded to our short-notice survey about AB 2025 and mediation confidentiality. A full 83% of you thought SCMA should oppose this legislation as drafted, and many of you included very thoughtful comments. For example: “How can an attorney recommend a settlement in a confidential setting if doing so exposes the attorney to malpractice claims?” “To uphold the high standards associated with mediation and to maintain trust in its process, contents of a mediation must still be kept confidential. Malpractice must be proved otherwise.” To see the results of the survey click here: AB 2025 Survey Results To read member comments, click here: AB 2025 Survey Comments I mentioned the results of the survey in a letter I drafted to the Judiciary Committee opposing the legislation as drafted. Update: This proposed legislation has now been withdrawn, and on May 8 the question of the relationship between mediation confidentiality and attorney misconduct was referred to the California Law Revision Commission for further study. Here is the link to the language of the referral, which seems to recognize the complexity of the issue: AB 2025 Referral to CLRC
On April 19 at the ABA Section of Dispute Resolution Conference in Washington, D.C. Phyllis Pollack, past president of SCMA, and I attended a discussion facilitated by AmericaSpeaks titled “Should Dispute Resolution Professionals be Regulated?” This was one of those programs where a ballroom full of participants sit at tables of eight to ten with a facilitator. They discuss a series of planned questions and then vote their opinions on individual keypads. The results are immediately tabulated for everyone to see. I was struck by how deeply divided the group was on almost every question. For example, when asked whether mediation “covers a unique body of knowledge that can be regulated,” 36% of the participants agreed or strongly agreed, 45% disagreed or strongly disagreed, and 19% neither agreed or disagreed. Click here to view the preliminary report of this session: AmericaSpeaks Preliminary Report SCMA welcomes your thoughts on this issue.
One plenary session at the Conference was a compelling address by Cobe Williams, one of the “violence interrupters” with the Chicago organization CeaseFire, whose members are called to intervene in urban street conflicts before the incidents explode into violence. CeaseFire’s work is the subject of an award winning documentary The Interrupters, which I have watched and can promise would be well worth your time. The film is available on Netflix. It was also featured on Frontline on PBS, so if you google the title you will get links to it.
Update: The deadline to reapply for the LASC mediation panels has been extended to the end of the year!
Is it possible summer is almost here?