Work Worth Doing: Alternative Dispute Resolution

By Colleen Byers

It is easy in today’s political and cultural environment to feel overwhelmed and completely helpless to affect any change. Conflict abounds. In a society focused on retributive justice, where traditional litigation approaches are the norm, advocating options for conflict resolution that fall on the alternative dispute resolution spectrum can often feel counter cultural. At times and among certain audiences, suggesting the collaborative law process is perceived as radical. Notwithstanding the inordinate amount of time, energy and effort that John Sarratt and the Board of Directors of the North Carolina Civil Collaborative Law Association (NCCCLA) have spent educating about and advocating for the use of the collaborative law approach in any civil dispute, I am still often on the receiving end of blank stares, quizzical looks, and frowns when I discuss the collaborative law process with other lawyers and clients. When this happens, it is easy to become discouraged, and the lawyerly ability to over analyze kicks into high gear. I worry that other litigators and even clients will perceive me as weak when I suggest alternative dispute resolution options rather than traditional litigation. At times, I wonder whether my zeal for conflict resolution has come on too strong. Then I remember those magical moments that fuel my passion for ADR …

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You’re Invited to Celebrate Conflict Resolution Week

By Nancy Black Norelli

Dear NC Mediators,

On Thursday, Oct. 18, the North Carolina Dispute Resolution Commission (NCDRC) will host a reception in honor of Conflict Resolution Week. To kick off our celebration week, there will be a special proclamation given by Chief Justice Mark Martin. The reception will take place at the N.C. Judicial Center (901 Corporate Center Drive, Raleigh) from 8:30 – 10 a.m.

The first annual Up and Coming Mediator Award will be presented by NCDRC staff to Mr. Ketan Soni in honor and appreciation of his dedication and service to mediation in North Carolina.

Please reply to this email by Wednesday, October 10, to let us know whether you plan to attend.

RSVP by Wednesday, October 10: YES – I plan to attend   |   NO – I am unable to attend


Role for the Mediator

By Frank Laney

A quality mediator needs to have expertise in facilitating communication and decision making, being a process expert.

Substance vs. Process

There is a continuing debate about mediator qualifications, about what it takes to be a good mediator. The question is, “Does a good mediator simply need to be an expert on the Process of mediation, executing the procedure or task well, or does a mediator need to also understand or even be an expert on the Substance or subject matter of the dispute?”  The answer to this question depends on the role of the mediator; what is the mediator’s central task?  The role of the mediator is determined by the foundational elements of mediation – the Definition of Mediation and Mediator Ethics. Once we understand the role of the mediator, we can determine the qualifications needed to fulfill that role.

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Let’s Recognize the Peacemakers Among Us

By M. Ann Anderson

North Carolina is a leader in the country for innovative and effective dispute resolution for its citizens. That leadership came about through the hard work of North Carolina citizens who, in hindsight, seem to have had a crystal ball predicting the importance of aiding people in conflict to find ways to resolve their disputes outside of the courtroom.

To honor those who provided this groundwork and who continue to work tirelessly in the field of dispute resolution, the North Carolina Bar Association Dispute Resolution Section periodically recognizes an individual or individuals in North Carolina who has or have made a special commitment to the peaceful resolution of disputes. Nominations are restricted to North Carolina residents who are selected by the Section’s Nominating Committee based on the award criteria[1].

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Welcome to the Dispute Resolution Blog!  Goodbye, Old School. Hello, Smart and Sassy!

By Nancy Black Norelli

Big, big shoes to fill!

I am excited to be a part of our inaugural blog that replaces the old-school Peacemaker, which served us well for decades.  We are blessed with two fantastic editors who will edit and procure articles and launch us into this modern, easy, sassy way to communicate. Please send your ideas or proposed blog to our Blog Co-Editors Tara Muller ( or Kate Deiter Maradei (

Ron and Nancy Norelli and LeAnn Nease and Gordon Brown celebrate a great year at the NCBA Annual Meeting in Wilimington.

Wonderful news!  Our Section has produced an NCBA president-elect! Please join me in congratulating LeAnn Nease Brown ( She promises to be an outstanding president as her participation at the NCBA includes chairing three sections, the formidable CLE Committee and a host of other committees and projects. The breadth of her knowledge and true affection for our profession and her compassion and astute judgment will propel the NCBA to new heights as challenges and opportunities are addressed.

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Exciting News: The Peacemaker Is Now A Blog!

Attention all Dispute Resolution Section members: Your DR Council recently voted to join the ranks of most other NCBA Sections to create a blog page to replace the outdated newsletter system we had been using for Section communications. This new system will allow more rapid communication and more visibility. As a valued member of the DR section, you now will receive regular email updates about The Peacemaker blog. Please stay tuned for upcoming posts.

If you have an article or other post you feel would be helpful to our members, please send it to Tara Muller, your Newsletter Editor-turned-Blog Editor, at

Also, we are starting a blog feature called Peacemakers’ War Stories.  At the suggestion of some of the veteran council members, mediators now may contribute interesting/helpful/difficult issues they have encountered during mediations, and how they handled them…or wished they had handled them! If you are willing to share an experience and help other section members, please send a summary to Tara for inclusion in that section of the blog.

We are excited about this development and hope you are, too.  Thank you for being a member of the DR Section.