It’s Never Too Early to . . .

Stock Photo rooster weathervane against sunrise

{4 minutes to read}  It’s never too early to mediate. I have written before on automatic mediation, meaning court-annexed mediation programs where the first step in the litigation process is to send the case out to mediation. Lawyers and judges who do not have experience with such programs often react negatively to the idea of cases going to mediation so early in the process. Those reactions are often based on the assumption that cases are only ready for mediation after all discovery has been completed; documents exchanged; depositions held; medical exams held when needed; etc. This assumption is wrong.

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My Sweet Lord

{3 minutes to read}  These days, we might all wish for some divine intervention to help quell the pandemic. However, the Lord works in mysterious ways and even disputes of a religious nature can find their way into our secular court system.

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Mediating Online

Young brothers talking with tin can telephone on grunge backgrou

{3 minutes to read}  Among the many crises created by the pandemic are shuttered, or barely functioning, courts. The backlogs are growing. And growing. Juries aren’t being picked. Trials aren’t being held. How do cases get resolved? How will the courts function again?

Some courts have begun doing online conferencing. However, as everyone has noticed, we seem to live in a Zoom world these days and Zoom mediations are taking off. These virtual meetings have emerged as a way to unclog court backlogs and bring new benefits to litigants. They even offer some advantages and may reflect one way our post-pandemic world will look.

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Practice Makes Perfect

Stock Photo Practice Makes Perfect - Image of man practicing saxophone holding music up with his foot.

{3 minutes to read}  There are 24,601 reasons why divorce mediation is preferable to divorce litigation. One of them, however, is that when a couple engages in mediation, they can create the details of their post-divorce life by figuring out together what works. In mediation, they can talk directly to one another about important matters, something divorcing couples often find very difficult to do outside of that setting. Over time, such conversations not only allow the couple to work out the details of the divorce — and creating a new life is no small matter — but help them create a foundation for future conversations. And when a couple has children, the odds are likely they will need to talk to each other for years to come.

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Honest Conversation – Mediation and the Pandemic

{5 minutes to read}  First some business: I am available for video and/or audio mediations and conferencing. 

Image of a dishonest man whose nose has grown long because he lied

Next: I don’t know where things will be when this blog is published. At the moment, everyone probably wants a break from the coronavirus conversation. However, it is the 500-lb. elephant in the room. In fact, as of this writing, it’s the only elephant in the room. 

So what, if anything, can mediation teach us about where we are? What can we draw upon to make things better? Two things come to mind: the need for honest conversation, and making the best of imperfect situations. They’re related but let’s take them one at a time. This blog will address honest conversation, the next, making lemonade. 

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Moving from Factual Exploration to Resolution

Fun Fact Trivia - Zebras are actually black with white stripes not white with black stripes

{4 minutes to read}  My last blog addressed the relationship between “fake news” and mediation. I posited that resolving a dispute through mediation typically does not result from the parties agreeing on the “truth” or the facts underlying the dispute. Assuming that’s the case, what are the implications?

Here’s one: In general, I find that divorce mediations take longer than most other kinds of mediations. That’s not because divorcing couples take longer to agree on or figure out the relevant facts than, say, commercial litigants. More often than not, divorcing couples can eventually agree on their financial circumstances.

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Fake News and Mediation

Part I

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{4 minutes to read}  So what’s the relationship between “fake news” and mediation? Fake news has a long and sordid history in this country and it has often been used for nefarious purposes, frequently to further oppress the least fortunate as a means of gaining or preserving political or economic advantage.

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Act II: Writing Your Own Ending

Hamlet - Stock Illustration

{3 minutes to read}  In my last blog, I made the connection between theater and mediation, noting that good theater often addresses the types of conflicts that could be resolved in mediation. A play about mediation might be a real bore, because it’s after the fact. Protagonists have already done whatever created the dispute. Creating conflict makes for good theater.  However, resolving conflict can also be engaging.

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Broadway as Mediation Training Ground: Act I

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{4 minutes to read}  Most people know the basic plot behind West Side Story, which in turn was based on the Shakespeare play Romeo and Juliet. The Jets and the Sharks are teenage gangs at each other’s throats. The Jets are white, mainly the sons of Polish or Italian immigrants, while the Sharks are recently arrived, resented immigrants from Puerto Rico. Both gangs are young, hormone-driven, and infected by the stereotypes of time immemorial. They don’t realize they’re fighting the same battle for respect and dignity. Throughout, there is coded language used to inflame, and inevitable miscommunication because they’re unable to see their common interests until it’s too late — like what happens in many conflicts.

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Very Rudimentary

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{3 minutes to read}  On March 10, 1876, Alexander Graham Bell, inventor of the telephone, made the world’s first phone call to his assistant, Thomas Watson. He did not say, “Please check the attachment in the email I just sent you, forward it to Mr. Smith in London, and we’ll all talk via Skype at 2 pm ET. Also, check out the photos of my granddaughter that I texted you. Isn’t she a cutie?

I used to think that in-person mediation always worked best because having everyone in the same place (not necessarily the same room) at the same time forced people to address the dispute in a focused manner. People were present. They had set aside the day, or at least several hours, for one thing only, and they were face to face with the mediator and at times the other side. It meant everyone got down to business. The mediation itself forced people to grapple with issues in a way they probably would not have if their lawyers were just on their own, figuring out ways to “screw the other side” at a hefty hourly rate. 

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About Us

An honors graduate of Harvard University and the Cardozo Law School of Yeshiva University, where he also served on the Law Review, Gary brings more than 30 years of litigation and negotiation experience to his practice as a mediator. He has successfully negotiated and mediated resolutions in family matters, employment cases, commercial disputes, personal injury cases, and major civil rights matters.

Contact Us

Phone :- 347.314.2163
Email :- gary@shaffermediation.com

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