Archive for the ‘court mediation’ Category

Foreclosure Mediation Round-up

September 14, 2009

As foreclosure mediation become more and more prominent, I thought I would dedicate today’s post to various, current, new articles.

Firstly, I would like to mention that tentatively an article of mine titled, Introduction to Foreclosure Mediation & Tips For The Mediator is set to be published in the California State Bar Association’s magazine Trial Style. The article, as the title states, will be a brief introduction to the process and key terms a mediator should know and understand before venturing into this new field. Terms include: Reinstatement, Forbearance, Loan Modification, Reverse Mortgage and Short Sale among others.

The article includes tips on how to properly organize yourself as well as questions you might want to ask yourself when considering participating in a court connect foreclosure mediation program.

Onto the recent news:
When foreclosure looms, mediation offers lifeline
But court can’t help consumers who don’t seek the option.

Mediation could be a borrower’s last lifeline — negotiating revised loan terms and a household budget that could keep a family in its home. Another outcome could be to allow a borrower to walk away without ruined credit.

Jim Drubert, Montgomery County Court General Division administrator, said that despite dwindling resources and the recent retirement of the court’s only full-time mediator, an additional 50 foreclosure mediation cases could be handled.

Hall’s records show 62 cases directed to mediation by a judge. But of those, 40 home owners did not respond. Of the rest, 13 are pending mediation or in process, seven were settled with the lender prior to mediation or went to mediation, and two referrals were canceled.
Read the Full article [here]

Task Force Urges Foreclosure Mediation
MANATEE — Florida should require mediation between mortgage lenders and borrowers to help courts better manage the crush of foreclosure cases and improve borrowers’ chances of keeping their homes, a judicial task force is recommending.

…The task force did not say how much mediation would cost, but said lenders should foot the entire bill — a recommendation that exposed a division on the panel.

In a dissenting report, Haworth — joined by a circuit judge, a lawyer and a banker — argued that lenders won’t be able to afford to pay for tens of thousands of mediations and that non-indigent borrowers should pay half the cost as a matter of fairness.

Full article [here]

State (Nevada) closer to launching foreclosure mediation program
CARSON CITY – A mediation program to help stop the large number of foreclosures on Nevada homeowners should begin soon, a state official says.
Originally it was announced it would start in August but has been delayed to train the mediators. So far more than 450 requests for mediation from homeowners have been filed.

Full article [here]

Homeowners Avoiding State Foreclosure Mediation Program
The state’s hallmark foreclosure mediation program continues to have a high success rate for homeowners, but still relatively few people have chosen to participate in the program.
Statewide, 2,932 foreclosure mediation cases have been completed as of May 31, and of those 60 percent, or 1,771 cases, have reached a settlement that allows individuals and families to stay in their homes. Of those who stayed in their homes, 41 percent or 1,224 homeowners, received a loan modification from their lender, according to data from the state’s judicial department.
Full article [here]

Providence mayor signs rules to slow foreclosures
PROVIDENCE, R.I. — Providence Mayor David Cicilline has signed two city ordinances designed to protect tenants whose rental homes are foreclosed upon, and to banks to enter mediation before foreclosing upon homeowners.

Florida Court Wants Mandatory Mediation on Foreclosures
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — The Florida Supreme Court’s residential foreclosure task force recommended Monday that all cases involving primary homes should be mediated and that judges should expedite cases dealing with vacant and abandoned properties.
The recommendations will go to the justices, who are looking for ways to help the court system cope with a flood of foreclosure cases caused by the national recession and Florida’s housing bust. Florida has one of the nation’s highest foreclosure rates. It was third at 3.4% behind Arizona and California in June.

Full article [here]

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New Niche Market For ADR Professionals?

August 31, 2009

For those not sure if the foreclosure mediation programs popping in numerous states is a market for mediators to make some income, think again. All one has to do is look at Nevada, which has the highest foreclosure rate in the nation [from a recent WSJ article here].

Mediators, in certain court connected programs have received payment previously, but with the launch of many of these foreclosure programs, this is the first time payment is being offered to such a large amount of mediators. Additionally, the rate is a decent wage as a recent Las Vegas Sun article states [full article here]:

More than 400 people, many of them attorneys and retired judges, have come forward to serve as mediators. They are paid $400, $200 from each side, for the sessions that can last up to four hours.

With this new niche for mediators, it also creates a new market for conflict specialists/strategists/coaches/consultants. Reading further into the article one finds out just how much a specialist charges:

Michael Joe, an attorney and foreclosure specialist for the Legal Aid Center of Southern Nevada, said he has seen attorneys advertise their services for $1,500 to $3,500 to help homeowners in mediation. It’s piggybacking on attorneys’ ads to help homeowners modify loans, he said.

What the above quote is referring to is how attorneys, not mediators or conflict specialists, have seen the light of this new niche field and are seizing the opportunity.
The article has this to add:
“What they are doing is trolling the county recorder’s site to see who is getting foreclosed upon and mailing them,” Joe said. “It is preying upon the weak and the desperate.”
Joe said homeowners don’t need attorney representation because the mediators are supposed to be knowledgeable, fair and unbiased. There are programs for homeowners to learn how to represent themselves in mediation and understand how the process works, he said.
With this new field, there are always the scammers and it should be no surprise there are many taking advantage of people. Since these foreclosure programs are new, there are many questions arising such as what is the exact role these ‘assistants’ play?
From ReviewJournal.com:
“The scams have been very rampant.”
Unlicensed consultants often charged up-front fees and then provided no assistance to desperate homeowners facing foreclosure.

Read the rest of the article [here]

Are mediators and other conflict resolvers also seeing this an a prime opportunity to get in on the action and offer their services? I mentioned [here] about the divide between attorney-mediators and non-attorney mediators, and this can be another example of it.
If this becomes the case, the non-attorney mediators and ADR professionals have no one to blame but themselves. If attorneys are reaching out to possible clients, why are not other ADR professionals? An immediate observation I had when reading the article was the fee currently being charged to offer assistance- $1,500 to $3,500. And that is for just the mediation!

I will stop here to keep things brief and give you all a chance to have a read and develop your own opinions. As always, comments and feedback are always welcome!

Non Attorney Mediators- Not Welcome?!?

August 10, 2009

Non Attorney Mediators- Not Welcome!?

Recently someone said having mediators on court mediation rosters be limited to those who are also an attorney was a reasonable rule.

I do not agree.

I vehemently disagree.

Things are dangerously becoming more and more an “us versus them” situation. The two sides to the “us and them” issue are non attorney mediators and mediators who also happen to be attorneys. I happen to belong to the “us” side.
Before I continue, let’s go back to the first paragraph. I ask each of you reading this, is it reasonable to have only mediator’s who are also attorneys be allowed on court rosters? Please, leave some feedback. Let’s hear it from both sides.
By the way, a reason the person gave for the law degree requirement is because of the education you then know the mediator has which then qualifies them to be on the roster. Yes, being educated and possessing a law degree gives a mediator a wealth of insider knowledge of the courts and the understanding of the various jargon and processes but does that translate into a requisite for a mediator?
If this continues, the mediation field for those without law degrees is going to shrink and I believe it can eradicate people like me from being involved. As I type this, I realized perhaps an important point to make- the ‘reasonable comment’ was in relation to a court service where the mediators will be paid. This brings up another question I have- is it ok for mediators without a law degree to mediate in the courts as long as they are volunteers? When it comes to getting paid, is that just for attorneys?
What is a mediator without a law degree to do? To answer my own question with a question, does it matter if I applied for one of these positions and said that I have a Masters Degree in Dispute Resolution? Surely that would fulfill the education requirement… right?
Another potential way to prevent the “us” from losing out to the “them” is (drum roll please) certification. Yes, certification. It seems like all talk on the Internet recently has been around the certification process of mediators. Could a national or international certification scheme help mediators in this case? [read recent comments on mediation certification at Mediation Channel, Mediate.com, Negotiation Law Blog and the Ombuds Blog]
Mediators need to increase their power and certification might be the way to do that. Yet another question for everyone- is it healthy that the ABA’s section on Dispute Resolution is arguably one of the most powerful ADR groups in the country, maybe in the world? What does that say for the field since it is an attorney based organization?

If the ACR could get a certification scheme up and running that could help level the playing field that seems to be titling in a direction heavily towards “them”. I recently became certified by the International Mediation Institute and they very well can potentially help as well. What I particularly like about IMI is 1) they are a non-profit organization and 2) they do not offer any services but are instead just a location for people to find qualified mediators.
The way I see certification helping is I think it will make choosing certified mediators become a ‘reasonable’ choice. A proper certification program, which I purposely will not go into here and that is a separate issue in itself, would give its mediators credibility as they have proved through the certification process they are educated, knowledgeable and have the requisite skills needed to mediate. There, no law degree is required anymore!
I would like to keep this short as many people have already given opinions recently on the pro and con side of certification of mediators. What I am trying to do is show a new angle of how it might benefit mediators.
It does not have to be “us versus them” but under a united certification plan, we all can be “us” under a process where a law degree does not exclude people.

Kiwi Mediators To Get $3,000 A Day!

August 9, 2009

Nominations Sought For Court Ordered Mediation Pilot

Last month Justice Minister Simon Power and Courts Minister Georgina Te Heuheu announced that the High Court in Auckland would introduce a pilot scheme that would see private mediators undertake court-ordered mediation in some civil disputes.

The pilot will commence on November 1 this year and will enable the equivalent of 50 one day-long mediations to be carried out. The Ministry of Justice will pay mediators at the rate of $1500 plus GST for half-day mediations and $3000 plus GST for whole day mediations.

Here the are the qualifications (from the article):

1. Hold a certificate from a recognised mediation training provider;

2. Experience in conducting a reasonable number of mediations;

3. Experience in litigation and/or arbitration generally;

4. Operate at a senior or intermediate level of legal practice.

Read the full article [here].

Sounds like you have to also be an attorney… right?

If anyone has more information, please share it here.

Court Related Mediation Study

June 29, 2009

Maria Volpe, overseer of the NYC-DR listserv, posted this great information recently that I thought many of the readers would find interesting:

To all: since research on court-related mediation programs may be of interest to some on this listserv, I am sending the following bibliography of evaluations conducted from the mid-1980s through 2006.

Best, Maria

http://courtadr.org/files/MedStudyBiblio2ndEd2.pdf From the Intro:

This bibliography brings together evaluations of court-related mediation programs that were conducted from the mid-1980s through 2006, with the addition of some earlier, seminal studies. The studies evaluate programs that cover a range of case types, including civil, family, small claims, victim-offender, workers’ compensation, bankruptcy, and appellate cases. The evaluations vary considerably in methodology: some look only at mediated cases; some compare mediated cases to cases that were not mediated; and some examine the impact of mediation on all cases, whether mediated or not.

You can join the NYC-DR Listserv [here]