2013 turned out to be an exciting year for our organization, one so rich with challenges that we titled our fall conference “Crisis and Opportunity.” This coming year, I am looking forward to fresh challenges, and to building on the work many members have done over the last several years to create a stronger organization. If I had to choose a theme for the year, that theme would be growth. The idea of expanding our organization’s capabilities, size and focus to reach a broader community underlies all of our plans.
We are re-building our website to better communicate with our members, and assist the public in learning more about mediation. The new website will be more inviting to lawyers searching for mediators, and to the general public, providing introductory materials about the benefits of mediation, and improved access to SCMA’s Select a Mediator Directory.
We are carrying forward SCMA’s certification initiative to educational institutions, mediation organizations, and mediation service providers, to build interest in the idea of creating a credential recognized statewide, that will assist the public in finding qualified mediators, and assist trained mediators in marketing their services.
We are expanding a program SCMA initiated last year to address local bar associations about mediation, including tips on initiating conversations about mediation, finding an appropriate mediator, and preparing for mediation.
We have launched a new mentorship program under the direction of past President Wendy Kramer, sure to be valuable to assist people in building mediation practices.
We are growing our membership by creating programs and benefits of interest to experienced mediators, aspiring mediators, and students, as well as non-mediators who use conflict resolution skills in whatever their chosen field. We are also working to expand SCMA’s membership geographically.
We also plan to build on the advocacy training program created for SCMA’s 2013 conference by designing more programs for lawyers interested in learning negotiation and mediation advocacy skills, and by supporting the collaborative law movement in both family law and civil law.
Our energetic programs committee, under the leadership of incoming vice-president Robyn Weinstein, has already laid out an ambitious slate of programs for the coming year. Keep returning to this site for lots of news sure to be of interest to our members and well beyond.
What a rewarding and busy experience this year has been serving as your President. I am thrilled by all that we have accomplished, and pleased to report to you that we are now over 400 members strong with over 230 in attendance at the amazing 2013 Annual SCMA Conference. SCMA is a thriving, growing organization, meeting the needs of its diverse membership. We have so many hardworking board and committee members, too numerous to individually thank for all they have done for SCMA and the mediation community. Thank you for your contributions and your tireless work. And thank you to Anne Sawyer, our executive director; she has done a truly remarkable job this year!
The year began with the dire news of budget cuts and the closure of the LASC-ADR Department. In response, the SCMA made the bold decision to brainstorm ways in which SCMA could help the court and its members. Our Board formed the Ad Hoc Committee on the Closure of the LASC-ADR Department which jumped in head first by conducting a Town Hall meeting held at the Santa Monica Library. After many months of collaboration and careful planning, the SCMA Select-A-Mediator Directory was born.
While the work of the Ad Hoc Committee was being done, we held numerous study groups all over Southern California, and featured various presenters at our monthly Professional Development Series (PDS) programs and institutes. Kathleen Ronald entertained and informed us with “The Seven Deadly Sins of Networking.” Bill Eddy gave us a fascinating presentation on “High Conflict Mediation,” leaving everyone clamoring for more, and Professor Lela P. Love and her panel amazed us at the half-day Institute, “The Mind of the Mediator.” Both the Real Estate and Employment Institutes in the springtime featured exceptional speakers and were of the highest caliber. In June, the SCMA was proud to co-sponsor the Marina Collaborative Practice Group’s first “Interdisciplinary Collaborative Practice Training.”
The SCMA Outreach Committee organized the Select-A-Mediator Launch Party in July, which drew an unprecedented number of attendees including consumers of mediation services. A follow-up training on the Select-A-Mediator site in August filled a classroom with SCMA members who successfully completed and launched their new Select-A-Mediator profiles.
In September, we again gathered as a community and welcomed former SCMA President Jan Schau as she presented us with real life lessons learned from her year of journaling which culminated in the publication of her book, “View From the Middle of the Road: A Mediator’s Perspective on Life, Conflict and Human Interaction.”
In October, the SCMA Outreach Committee joined forces with the Beverly Hills Bar Association and filled its conference room to capacity with a program entitled, “Resolving Cases Without the Court’s ADR Program. What Lawyers do Now?” Plans are underway to duplicate this program for many other organizations in an effort to educate consumers of mediation on how to find quality, cost-effective dispute resolution solutions and effectively mediate disputes.
Rounding out the year, we learned many lessons at the last PDS of 2013, ”Peer Mediation, Bringing Conflict Resolution to Schools.” about the skills mediators can teach school age children to encourage peaceful conflict resolution in their schools, homes and communities. Take a look at the 2013 on-line Conference Journal to see the amazing year of work completed by the Ad Hoc Committee on Mediation Certification as well as a wealth of other materials from the Annual Conference at: https://www.scmediation.org/2013-scma-annual-fall-conference/2013-scma-online-conference-journal/
Our website continues to provide a wealth of information as we strive to make it the “go-to” place for information regarding trainings, programs, volunteer and job opportunities for our members. Plans are underway for a website redo with even more content and capabilities in 2014.
In thinking back, I am truly amazed by the amount of work we accomplished and feel tremendous pride in the SCMA community. We welcome your involvement! Take a look at the numerous SCMA committees at: https://www.scmediation.org/about/committees/ and you will surely find a committee that is just right for you. And if you have thoughts regarding any new projects or committees, please feel free to contact me. I encourage you to share your ideas, inspire us and make new connections as we continue to grow and prosper in this supportive SCMA community.
Thank you to the more than 250 folks who attended the SCMA’s Select-A-Mediator Launch party at the beautiful Sofitel Hotel. The weather was perfect for our outdoor mixer as individual SCMA volunteers demonstrated the directory on iPad’s and laptops. We welcomed old and new SCMA members, numerous ADR leaders, leaders and members of bar associations, and many professionals who use mediation services. The response to the new directory was overwhelmingly positive. We could not have put this event together without the help of an extremely hardworking, diligent crew of SCMA volunteers, Floyd Siegal, Maurice Attie, Guy Mizrahi, Julie Ware, Robyn Weinstein, Jason Harper, Barbara Brown, Shazi Rastegar, Mark Ameli, Joe Markowitz, Hass Sadeghi, Victoria Gray, Sean Judge, Terri Lubaroff, Sara Houghton and our executive director Anne Sawyer. And a huge thank you to all of the past and present members and leaders in our community who spread the word including our local bar association supporters: Beverly Hills Bar, San Fernando Valley Bar, Orange County Bar and the Santa Monica Bar! And a thank-you to Jan Schau for donating two of her books to our raffle.
And now, the news you’ve been waiting for….
The Winner of the iPad mini raffle was: Patrick Martin, Psychiatric Social Worker, LA County Department of Mental Health
And the winner of the 1-year membership to SCMA was: Susan J. Field, Esq., Musick Peeler & Garrett
We are continuing to tweak the Directory with all of the great feedback that has been provided and we urge you to upload your profile if you have not already done so. Be sure to be patient; after you have hit the “Save” button, do not navigate off of the screen until you receive the message that you have successfully updated your profile, otherwise your work will not be saved. We will be hosting a PDS meeting in August to assist members in creating and uploading their profiles as well as marketing tips.
I look forward to seeing you in September, if not sooner, at our next Professional Development Seminar featuring former SCMA President Jan Schau and her fantastic new book, “View From the Middle of the Road: A Mediator’s Perspective on Life, Conflict and Human Interaction”. Also coming up in October will be a PDS on Peer Mediation and of course, Save The Date for our 25th Annual Conference on November 2, 2013 entitled Crisis and Opportunity: Expanding the Field of Conflict Resolution.
Enjoy the rest of your summer!
Wendy W. Kramer, Esq.
President, Southern CA Mediation Association
As summer approaches, things are heating up not only on the beaches but behind the scenes at SCMA! The SCMA’s Fall Conference Programs Committee is busily working on the 25th Annual SCMA Conference at Pepperdine, entitled, Crisis and Opportunity: Expanding the Field of Conflict Resolution. Save the date – November 2, 2013, and join us in what promises to be a memorable day, which will include an Advanced Track, an Advocacy Track and the Second Annual Mediation Fair, welcoming participation by all of the Southern California’s community mediation providers!
The title of the 25th Annual Conference, Crisis and Opportunity, is apt in light of the unexpected closure of the Los Angeles Superior Court’s ADR Department this month, which has afforded SCMA the opportunity to contribute new solutions, not only to help SCMA members to continue to find opportunities to practice mediation, but to also assist litigants and the courts to reduce anticipated long delays and backlogs, by providing access to quality and affordable dispute resolution. The SCMA’s searchable “Select-A-Mediator” Directory has been designed by our members to allow consumers to choose their mediator based on a variety of searchable criteria including subject-matter expertise, background and experience level, and fee structure, among others. We are excitedly putting the finishing touches on the Directory! In the next few weeks, all current SCMA members will be receiving an e-mail invitation and directions to log on and upload their profiles to the Directory. Those members who wish to be listed in the Select-A-Mediator directory must certify that they have taken at least a 40 hour course in mediation or the equivalent, or were already members of the LASC Superior Court Panel.
The Directory should prove to be an invaluable resource for the courts, attorneys and all ADR consumers looking to find mediators based upon substantive background, geography and fee structure, including mediators willing to offer their services at reduced rates. We are continuing to offer SCMA’s assistance during this time of budget crisis through meetings with both the Civil and Family Law Court’s Judges and representatives of both the plaintiff and defense bars.
In order to introduce SCMA members and the public to the “Select-A-Mediator” Directory, SCMA is hosting a Select-A-Mediator Summer Launch Party on Tuesday, July 16, 2013, from 6:00 p.m. – 8:00 p.m., at the Sofitel Hotel, located at 8555 Beverly Boulevard, Beverly Hills, CA. All attorneys, mediators, and other professionals are invited to attend. Admission will be free and there will be a no-host bar, appetizers, live demonstrations of the “Select-a-Mediator” Directory, and a raffle for an iPad Mini. Please help spread the word! We hope to see you there!!
All my best,
Springtime brings new growth, awakening and change. As you have likely heard, exciting changes are happening at SCMA this spring, including the formation of an SCMA Mediation Program to assist litigants who formerly had access to the LA Superior Court ADR program. The LA Superior Court ADR program has officially notified the public that the entire ADR department is shutting down by the end of June. No new cases will be referred to mediation after March 10. All current cases are required to be set for hearings by May 10, 2013. We have been asked to remind panel members to cooperate with ADR administrators in helping close all open files by the end of June, which is important for reporting purposes. Follow their directions, do not argue, and please be kind, courteous and sympathetic to the court’s ADR staff, as many of them face an uncertain future.
SCMA has already committed to help the public, the court, and our members in transitioning to a new era of private mediation. We are announcing the formation of our own directory of SCMA members who will continue to provide mediation services for court cases, and we invite members of the court mediation panels to join SCMA so that they can be part of this exciting new program. We are in the process of upgrading the SCMA website so that litigants will be able to select a mediator by various relevant criteria. At least through the end of 2013, we do not intend to impose any administrative fees for public use of SCMA services in assisting litigants in selecting a mediator. We also plan to charge no fees for SCMA members who meet the qualifications for listing on the directory through December 31, 2013. Qualifications will likely be similar to those currently required for the court panels, so that users will be assured that anyone selected from the SCMA directory will have a minimum level of training. We are very excited about this program and hope that members will help us spread the word about its availability.
We are also very excited about SCMA’s upcoming programming. On Friday, March 22, 2013 SCMA is presenting a half-day institute entitled “Inside the Mind of a Mediator” featuring Professor Lela P. Love, co-author of “Stories Mediators Tell.” There are lively SCMA study groups meeting regularly in Pasadena, Santa Monica and Orange County. In April, former SCMA President, Jan Schau, will present topics from her new book “View From the Middle of the Road: A Mediator’s Perspective on Life, Conflict and Human Interaction.” Also being planned are Real Estate, Family Law and Employment Institutes, a Practice Building Event, SCMA’s Summer Soiree, the 25th Annual SCMA Conference on November 2, 2013, and December’s Holiday Party.
If you have not already renewed your membership, you can still do so at the early bird discounted rate of $195 which has been extended through March 31, 2013.
We will continue to put our best foot forward as we embrace a springtime full of opportunities for growth and new challenges! I hope to see you soon at an upcoming program.
As we begin 2013, exciting things are happening at SCMA and we want you to be a part of it! The planning is already underway for a number of creative and informative programs and events throughout the coming year. Many of us begin the New Year with a list of resolutions. I’d like to suggest that SCMA be added to your list.
Resolve to take an active part in SCMA. The rewards are numerous as we gather together and form new friendships and professional relationships in study groups; at professional development seminars; committee meetings; employment, real estate and family law institutes; networking/social events; and what will be our 25th Annual Conference on November 2, 2013.
Resolve toattend SCMA programs. Two meetings are already scheduled for January, the Town Hall meeting regarding the possible end of the LASC Superior Court ADR Program on Tuesday, 1/15/13, and the first Professional Development Seminar entitled “The Seven Deadly Sins of Networking” on Thursday, 1/31/13.
Resolve toattend or host a study group. It’s a great way to develop professionally and meet like-minded people in your area.
Resolve tojoin an SCMA committee (i.e., Membership, Communications, Programs, Organizational Outreach, Ad Hoc Committee on Mediator Certification) for more details click here!
Resolve toupdate your profile on the Find a Mediator Tab on the SCMA Website if you are a member, or create one if you join.
Resolve to participate in SCMA’s mentorship program. This program provides an incredible opportunity to be mentored one-on-one by an established mediator.
Our organization is filled with the buzz of excitement and new ideas. Many of the programs and opportunities are available to members only, so join SCMA and take advantage of everything that is offered. Let’s continue to make SCMA the go-to-place for local and international mediation news, professional and social networking opportunities, mediation training and education, and most importantly, the opportunity to come together frequently as a community, to connect with one another and enrich our practices and our spirits.
Want to join now?Click here to join online and become and active member.
With your participation and commitment, this promises to be a truly amazing year!
The Southern California Mediation Association (SCMA) will present its highest award, the Cloke‑Millen Peacemaker of the Year Award, to Kenneth R. Feinberg at its annual conference on Saturday, November 3, 2012 at Pepperdine University. Mr. Feinberg will also be the keynote speaker at the conference, speaking on “Unconventional Responses to Unique Catastrophes: Tailoring the Resolution to Meet the Challenge.”
As “America’s go-to guy in calculating life’s worth” and “America’s King Solomon” (Newsweek Magazine, June 25, 2012), Kenneth Feinberg has been key to resolving many of our nation’s most challenging and widely known disputes. He is best known for serving as the Special Master of the Federal September 11th Victim Compensation Fund of 2001, in which he reached out to all who qualified to file a claim, evaluated applications, determined appropriate compensation, and disseminated awards. He was then named Fund Administrator for the Hokie Spirit Memorial Fund following the tragic shootings at Virginia Tech, designated Administrator of the Gulf Coast Claims Facility following the Gulf Coast oil spill, retained to resolve insurance claims arising out of Hurricane Katrina and other Gulf region hurricanes, and designated Distribution Agent for AIG Fair Fund claimants. In his capacity as an arbitrator, Mr. Feinberg helped determine the fair market value of the original Zapruder film of the Kennedy assassination, and legal fees in Holocaust slave labor litigation. Mr. Feinberg has done all his government and university work pro bono.
Mr. Feinberg also has served as Special Master in Agent Orange, asbestos, personal injury, wrongful death, Dalkon shield, and DES (pregnancy medication) cases. He has been involved in resolving thousands of disputes involving a wide range of interests and clients. Mr. Feinberg has been appointed to two presidential‑level commissions because of his experience and expertise, and has had a distinguished teaching career as an Adjunct Professor of Law at Georgetown University, the University of Pennsylvania, Columbia University, New York University, and the University of Virginia. In 2004, he was named “Lawyer of the Year” by the National Law Journal (2004), and has been named repeatedly as one of “The 100 Most Influential Lawyers in America” by the National Law Journal.
The “master of disaster” (Washington Post, January 14, 2010) has written two books: What is Life Worth? The Unprecedented Effort to Compensate the Victims of 9/11 (Public Affairs, 2005); and just recently Who Gets What: Fair Compensation after Tragedy and Financial Upheaval (Public Affairs, June 26, 2012). Of this book the New York Times, August 4, 2012, said:“Mr. Feinberg is compassionate, tough, legally creative, highly persuasive and politically shrewd. He has an endless appetite for work, an admirable taste for public service and a zest for butting heads in high‑stakes negotiations. He understands that he takes the heat for the public officials who call him in. He expects no one to be happy with how he slices the pie, at least not at first, and no one to be in a reasonable mood.”
Mr. Feinberg received his B.A., cum laude, at the University of Massachusetts in 1967 and his J.D. at New York University School of Law, where he was Articles Editor of the Law Review, in 1970. He clerked for Chief Judge Stanley H. Fuld, of the New York State Court of Appeals from 1970 to 1972. He has been Chairman of the Board of the RAND Institute of Civil Justice, Vice‑Chairman of the Board of Human Rights First, a Board member of the Bazelon Center for Mental Health Law, and President of the Washington National Opera. In 1992 he founded Feinberg Rozen, LLP, a law firm for mediation, arbitration, other forms of alternative dispute resolution, and negotiation strategy. www.feinbergrozen.com
In case you were finding your mediation world too calm this summer, let me introduce you to SR 05-01-2012, a resolution on mediator regulation that will be before the Conference of California Bar Associations at their meeting in October. Under this resolution, among other things:
1. “Mediator” is defined as “a neutral third-party who for compensation conducts a mediation.” (Emphasis added.)
2. Standards of conduct and minimum qualifications for mediators would be up to the Judicial Council.
3. Procedures for enforcing the standards of conduct would also be up to the Judicial Council.
4. The State Bar would be responsible for certification and registration of mediators.
5. The State Bar Court would be responsible for mediator discipline and would be directed to “use the same procedures in adjudicating the fitness of a mediator to mediate as it does in adjudicating the fitness of an attorney to practice law.”
Here is the link to the actual language of the resolution:
The issue of mediator regulation has been of intense interest to mediators across the country for years, and much has been written on the topic. The Association for Conflict Resolution (ACR) in October of last year adopted Model Standards for Mediator Certification Programs, which are well worth looking at to gain an appreciation for the complexity of the problem. Here is the link:
What is proposed by SR 05-01-2012 is regulation of mediators not by the private sector but by the state. The arguments both for and against state regulation have been collected by Diane Levin on her blog at http://mediationchannel.com/2009/10/18/public-licensing-and-regulation-of-mediators-the-arguments-for-and-against/. Further, however, SR 05-01-2012 proposes regulation of mediators specifically by the State Bar. One commentator has observed that state bar regulation would likely target non-lawyers, be biased in favor of lawyers, and do nothing to ensure mediator competence. See Philip J. Loree’s article “The Case Against State Regulation of Mediators” in NE-ACR News at:
If this resolution is approved by the Conference of California Bar Associations, it would then advance to the California legislature.
You can comment on SR 05-01-2012 by writing to the Executive Director, Conference of California Bar Associations, c/o Kronick, Moskovitz, Tiedemann & Girard, 400 Capitol Mall, 27th Floor, Sacramento, California 95814. Email: email@example.com
This resolution was called to our attention by the California Dispute Resolution Council (CDRC). CDRC is our advocate in Sacramento, looking out for ADR and ADR practitioners. If you are not yet familiar with CDRC, check out their website at CDRC.net.
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!
Message from SCMA 2012 President Barbara Brown, Esq.
Dear Colleagues –
Here it is March already! And the rest of the year promises to be most interesting for our field.
One issue you will want to be on top of is the introduction of AB 2025 in the California State Assembly. Under existing law, nothing said in the course of a mediation is admissible in evidence or subject to discovery in another action or proceeding. This confidentiality applies as well to communications between a client and his attorney. This means, as articulated by the California Supreme Court in Cassel v. Superior Court, 51 Cal 4th 113 (2011), that if a client wants to sue his attorney over something that happens during the course of the mediation – claiming, for example, that the attorney misadvised or pressured him – he could not prove his case by testifying about what happened at the mediation.
Legislation has now been introduced in the California Assembly which would abrogate the holding of the Cassel case and say that mediation confidentiality would not apply when a client sues his attorney over something that happens during the mediation. The ramifications of this legislation are potentially enormous. See the article on AB 2025 by clicking here, and links to arguments on both sides of the issue. You can also join the conversation already underway on LinkedIn under Groups, Southern California Mediation Association.
If you are on any of the Los Angeles Superior Court’s mediation panels, don’t forget to renew your application. The deadline for renewal has been extended to June 30, 2012. See the article on Re-Application at this link.