Hats, Bracketology and PSAP

By Nancy Norelli

The Dispute Resolution Section CLE and Annual Meeting, held in the midst of March Madness, was a big success. Donna Savage and her team put together an outstanding program. All the speakers presented interesting ideas and gave the attendees the value of their decades of conflict resolution experience.

You can still view the program and get CLE and CME Credits.  Video replays are set in Cary on May 31 and Concord on June 14.  Sign-up here.

Here’s a brief synopsis of the CLE.  Denise Cline, an employment lawyer/mediator kicked off the day with a thorough discussion of tax matters and other laws that can impact the carefully crafted employment settlement.  Ray Owens, Ann Andersonand Jack Smith presented creative ideas for overcoming roadblocks to successful outcomes. We even dipped our toe into what Ray called “Bracketology.” Dr. Elizabeth Teagarden, a dispute resolution consultant, introduced us to psychological issues that may may affect outcomes.  One provocative thought was that women might be more likely to concede in an environment that is less hostile and more positive. She also introduced the various thinking hats worn by parties in mediations, and recommendedEdward de Bono’s “Six Thinking Hats.” Kevin Murphy, Chris Osborn and Judge Carleton Metcalf, U.S. Magistrate Judge for the Western District of N.C., presented an introduction to the Western District’s Pro Se Mediation Assistance Program (PSAP), an exciting program that matches a pro se litigant with a pro bono lawyer for the mediated settlement conference.  This creative new way to reach resolution outside the courtroom is a model for other courts.  My recent experiences both representing a pro se party in a settlement conference and mediating a case with a pro bono attorney representing a pro se claimant were worthwhile and rewarding.  Please consider signing up for PSAP at this link. Katherine Graham’s introduction to issues in international arbitration was interesting and timely as our Section leadership strives to provide more education for lawyers practicing in the international arena. Finally, Dispute Resolution Commission Executive Director Tara Kozlowski presented an update on Issues and Rules that the DRC is addressing, which provided an hour of CME Credit in addition to the one hour provided by the stumbling blocks panel.

The congeniality of our Section membership is remarkable.  I encourage you to consider attending in person next year for education and socializing.  A high point of the Annual Meeting is always the presentation of the Peace Award, and our 2019 recipient, LeAnn Nease Brown, immediate past chair of our Section, is a perfect honoree.  A more worthy recipient does not exist.

Observation Video for Certification of Superior Court Mediators

The Section, under the leadership of Ann Anderson and Jackie Clare, is creating an observation video designed to be used in lieu of one of the two live observations required for certification as a superior court mediator.   The DRC is aware of the project and encouraged us to move forward with the design. We are hopeful that the finished product will be approved by the DRC.  Our timetable for completion is June of this year.

Collaborative Law Expansion

The Section, under the leadership of John Sarrat, is continuing to educate practitioners in collaborative law, both through speaking opportunities and continuing education programs and through extensive support of proposed legislation.  We are happy to report that the bill championed by Sarratt has passed the House.  Our family law collaboration committee is working closely with Sarratt as this relatively new method of settling disputes is taking hold in North Carolina.

Support for International Arbitration Education

The Section is supporting the efforts of our Arbitration Committee to provide an international arbitration CLE, including a one-hour slot on our just completed Section’s Spring CLE.  This educational effort is being well received.

Support for Conflict Resolution Week in October 2019

The Section is excited to be collaborating with the Dispute Resolution Commission on its Conflict Resolution Week to be held in October of this year at the Administrative Office of the Courts.  In addition to assisting with educational opportunities and finance, we are pleased that the Peace Award honoree LeAnn Nease Brown will be honored and recognized at the co-sponsored reception.  We are enjoying working with the new executive director of the commission, Tara Kozlowski, an NCBA member, who is bringing experience and important fresh ideas to her work. She is a guest at our Section Council meetings and I am enjoying being an ex-officio member of the commission.  Judge Webb has appointed me to co-chair a committee designing a plan to bring family financial mediators into the same status as superior court mediators.

Pro Se Mediation Information

The Section, under the leadership of Rick Igou and Salim Uqdah, is preparing a PowerPoint presentation to educate pro se parties on the mediation process and its benefits.  Already several venues are interested in using this product.

Members of the Section are both attorneys and non-attorneys who practice in the areas of alternative dispute resolution, including, mediation, arbitration (domestic and international), collaborative law, and collaborative family law together with attorneys and other persons interested in alternative conflict resolution.  The Section strives to reflect all roles in alternative dispute resolution and to include representatives from all areas of our state and all areas of alternative dispute resolution practice and participation on our Section Council.

Peace and blessings,
Nancy Black Norelli