Monthly Archives: July 2010

Atlanta Public Schools Hearing Officer

After recently  completing its internal training course, I was appointed as a Hearing Officer for the Atlanta Public School System. In that role, I preside over cases involving nonrenewal of teaching contracts, grievances, and other employment issues. My role is to ensure a fair and impartial hearing to both parties.

After years of litigating cases involving employment disputes and due process deprivations, I enjoy the fresh perspective of sitting on the other side of the bar.

Good Things Are Happening!

Good Things are Happening by O.V. Brantley, 2007

Sometimes I combine my two passions — quilts and mediations. I learned my mediation skills on the job in a daily environment of conflict as the  Fulton County Attorney. After all, moving a democracy forward requires consensus even in the largest, most diverse county in Georgia. While not always pleasant, helping to resolve conflicts to move Fulton County forward was fulfilling.

Good Things Are Happening is a quilt I made to document and preserve my Fulton County memories. It gets its name from a slogan made popular by my personal commissioner Bill Edwards. He was always upbeat and positive about the good things that were happening in South Fulton County.

Working through conflict can produce beautiful results.

State Bar Announces 4th Annual Arbitration Institute

The State Bar of Georgia  has announced the details of the Fourth Annual Arbitration Institute. It will be held Friday, August 20, 2010 at the State Bar Headquarters, 104 Marietta Street, Atlanta.

The seminar chair is  Joan C. Grafstein. She has put together an informative  program that  includes:

• Developments in Arbitration Law
• Business to Business Arbitration:  Where Does It Stand and Where Do We Go from Here?
• Arbitration Ethics and Other Sources of Possible Embarrassment for Arbitrators and Counsel
• What to do When:  How Experienced Commercial Arbitrators Deal with Challenging and Recurring Problems that Arise During Arbitration

The program qualifies for 6 CLE Hours including 1 Ethics Hour, 1 Professionalism Hour and 6 Trial Practice Hours. For additional information and to register for this program, visit the ICLE website at www.iclega.org.

Making Mediation Your Day Job

When I first started practicing law over 30 years ago, I purchased a book called How to Go Directly Into Solo Law Practice Without Missing a Meal by Gerald M. Singer.  It was my Bible of sorts during my first five years of practice.  I still have it in my library.

When I became a certified mediator, I purchased Making Mediation Your Day Job by Tammy Lenski. I found it immensely helpful and I recommend it to new and old mediators alike. It is now available on Kindle.

Character is Paramount

When choosing a mediator, the most important consideration is the character of the mediator.  A mediator must be fair. A mediator must be respectful to all parties. A mediator must respect the confidentiality of the process as well as the information shared during the process. A mediator must have a wise and kind demeanor. A mediator must inspire confidence.

When choosing your next mediator, look beyond academic credentials and years of experience. Evaluate whether your mediator has the character to resolve the case.

Why Mediation?

After 30 years of litigating cases, I am convinced that mediation is a better way in the vast majority of cases. The typical case that is litigated can last for years and be prohibitively expensive. During the pendency of the action, the case continues to exact an emotional toll on the litigants. Often the adversarial setting does not allow for a solution that would make both parties feel good about the situation.

Alternatively, mediation is less costly than litigation. Often the case can be resolved in a day or two rather than years. Even more important is the fact that mediation is confidential. Since the parties create the solution to the dispute with the expert help of the mediator, at the end of the day, everyone leaves more satisfied.

What is Mediation?

Mediation is different from litigation and arbitration in that  litigation and arbitration are essentially adversarial. This means that  in litigation and in arbitration, the parties square off as in a sporting event, and someone else decides the outcome.

In contrast, mediation is usually consensual unless it is ordered by a court. In other words, parties mediate because they want to. They agree to, with the help of a neutral party, meet in a confidential setting to try to resolve a dispute.  In a mediation, no one can force either party to do anything. They must voluntarily agree.

If you are a person who likes to control your own destiny, then mediation is for you.

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