The Letterman List

Each week I set aside time to gather information about the mediation process that I believe my colleagues will find useful.  As a mediator and former litigation partner, I understand the issues and concerns that affect the parties and aim to be a reliable resource for all things mediation. That being said, add this to…

3 Styles of Mediation

As any experienced neutral knows, there are several different approaches to mediation: facilitative, evaluative and transformative. The key to being a successful mediator, as far as the parties are concerned? Adopting oneself to fit each mediation’s particular needs. Evaluative mediation is a process modeled on settlement conferences held by judges, where the goal is often to…

A Lesson In Insurance Policy Interpretation

How should an experienced Southern California mediator review an insurance policy? In a recent article in the Los Angeles Daily Journal, Superior Court Judge Rex Heeseman, author of the Rutter California Insurance Guide, gave some very valuable advice with respect to interpreting insurance policies.  According to Judge Heeseman: evaluate the whole insurance policy in order to interpret specific terms within it.
The recent California case of Wallman v. Suddock 200 Cal. App. 4th 1288 (2011) is the subject of the article.  Judge Heeseman points out that rather than argue that a specific term is ambiguous (in this case the phrase in an excess policy, “To Be Determined,” as a reference to the underlying primary policies), look at the entire policy.  Judge Heeseman believes that the question is not whether the term is ambiguous in the abstract, but whether it is ambiguous in the context of the specific policy.

Nonverbal Communication in Mediation

As many lawyers are aware, good communication is the foundation of a successful attorney / client relationship. Before a mediation begins, it is important for the lawyer to have an honest discussion with his client about what the client is hoping to achieve from the mediation. After all, in order for an attorney to accomplish…

Mediation, Settlement Negotiations, and Legal Malpractice

Best practices encourage attorneys to fully advise clients of the risks and benefits of continuing settlement negotiations after one party has received an offer within the client’s state acceptable range. The client’s attorney might believe his client can obtain a better offer by rejecting it and negotiating further, but as most lawyers know, the client…

Preparing Your Client for Mediation

Mediation is becoming an increasingly popular form of alternative dispute resolution. As more litigants turn to an experienced mediator to assist them in resolving their issues, it is important for attorneys to properly prepare their clients for the mediation process. Whether your client is an in house lawyer familiar with the mediation process or a first…

California Heightens Doctrine of Mediation Confidentiality

Hopefully most California mediators are well-versed in case law surrounding their practice, but are a majority of the lawyers who rely on these neutrals aware of the doctrine of mediation confidentiality as it relates to potential malpractice suits? Recently, a unanimous decision at the state Supreme Court raised California’s doctrine of mediation confidentiality to a higher…