Category Archives: Mediation

Let’s Pull Together

Let’s Pull Together, quilt by O.V. Brantley, 2009

Many national polls show that most Americans just want our elected officials to get in a room and work something out! I certainly agree with that sentiment. That is why I love mediation.

As you interact with your elected officials, make them understand that you expect solutions — not notches on their belt for petty style points, not ego filled posturing, not long awaited revenge and not self-promotion. Solutions move us forward.

Treating our collective problems like a sporting event is crazy. There are no winners and losers. There is only us.

Try Mediation For Employee Grievances

Recently I mediated several disputes between employees and their supervisors. I think more employers should use mediation to resolve employee grievances.

Almost every business has a grievance procedure. However, most of these procedures focus on who is right and who is wrong. While conducting an investigation to find one person at fault may solve the problem of having appropriate personnel procedures should the company get sued, investigations and grievance procedures rarely create an atmosphere that allows employees to work together  harmoniously in the future.

Mediation can go farther than a grievance procedure or an investigation. It can get to the root of what is really bothering the employee and, possibly, come up with a more long-term solution. Sometimes the solution is an apology. Sometimes the solution is the ability to speak a truth to one employee that others have been unwilling to voice. Sometimes the solution is to listen and let someone vent.

Consider mediation if you want not only a resolved grievance, but a harmonious workplace.

Do Judges Make Great Mediators?

Do judges make great mediators? Sometimes, but not always.

Judges can be dictatorial. After all, a lifetime on the bench means a lifetime of telling people what to do with the knowledge that they must obey or go to jail.

Mediation is just the opposite. It is the art of convincing people to do something when they know they do not have to do it. Now, that takes a certain skill.

The most important traits in a mediator is the ability to gain the trust of the participants and to be persuasive. Once there is trust and persuasion, there can be resolution

Do Litigators Make Great Mediators?

Do litigators make great mediators? Sometimes, but not always.

If a certain type of case is involved, and the mediator has tried many cases involving that subject matter, then litigation experience can inform the mediation. However, in the vast majority of cases litigation experience is not necessary. Sometimes it can even be harmful if the mediator cannot put aside her normal adversarial nature that is cultivated when one is a litigator.

The most important trait in a mediator is the ability to gain the trust of the participants. Once there is trust, there can be resolution.

Sharpening My Mediation Skills Through the Tax Appeal Process

It’s tax time! Metro counties, including Fulton, are sending out thousands of assessment notices to homeowners. If homeowners are unhappy with their assessment, they can appeal. Because of a change in the law requiring counties to assess property annually, everyone will get a notice this year. Tax officials are bracing for an unusually large number of appeals.

At the request of Fulton County Attorney David Ware, I will be handling some of these appeals on behalf of the Fulton County Board of Tax Assessors. Most of the Fulton Superior Court Judges assign their tax appeal cases to the Fulton County Office of Alternative Dispute Resolution before placing them on a trial calendar. I am looking forward to participating in the mediation process from the other side of the table.

New Beginnings

Life’s Twists and Turns by O.V. Brantley

Effective January 31, 2011 I became Of Counsel to the law firm Holland & Knight.  My law practice will continue to focus on local government issues, and I will continue to mediate cases that involve local government issues.

My new mailing address is Holland & Knight, 1201 West Peachtree, Suite 2000, Atlanta, GA 30309. My direct  number is 404-898-8132, and my email address is ov.brantley@hklaw.com.

I look forward to mediating with you soon.

Martin — The Greatest Mediator

Martin's Dream, 74 x 87 inches, by O.V. brantley, 2002.

There are many reasons to revere and emulate Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. He was a great leader. He was a great orator. He was an amazing scholar and a caring husband and father. For me, however, I have come to revere him as the greatest mediator ever!

Now that so many years have passed since his death, history tends to gloss over the magnitude of the conflict he faced. When you set out to change a nation, not every one agrees on the best course. .

Many African Americans believed that violence was the best way. Many whites believed that no way was the best way. From these extreme view points, he forged a way forward to forgiveness, healing and justice.

There is much to celebrate on Martin Luther King, Jr. Day. He made us all better.

Does Your Case Need an Unconventional Remedy?

Money can buy a lot of things, but it cannot buy everything. Sometimes to settle a case you need an unconventional remedy. One example of this is when one side wants an apology. Such was the case  in the recent litigation involving police misconduct at a gay nightclub in Atlanta. Another example is cell tower litigation when an alternate site is required.

Courts are great at awarding money, but if your case requires an unconventional remedy, try mediation.

Do You Have a Clientzilla On Your Hands?

Most people think that it is  the lawyer who  makes the decisions involving a case. This is true because most people who hire a lawyer do so because they trust the lawyer’s wisdom and expertise, and they allow the lawyer,  in consultation with them, of course, to make the decisions. However, every now and then a lawyer gets a clientzilla. A clientzilla is a client who is stubborn, headstrong and refuses to listen to advice.

Lawyers who find themselves in such a situation should consider mediation. Often, a mediator can talk to the client in a way that the lawyer cannot. The mediator can tell the client some hard truths that the lawyer cannot. Sometimes the mediator can find a nice way to tell clientzilla that he is being unreasonable and rude.

Consider mediation when you have a clientzilla on your hands.

How Old is Your Oldest Case?

It’s funny how time can sneak up on you. This time of year, I always think about how fast time seems to fly  because I am a New Year’s baby. You look around and it seems that another year has passed in the blink of an eye.

The same time thief invades your case files. You look through your files and notice that a file has been open for five years! I think my personal record may have been around nine years!

Think about the human cost of those years. All that time your clients have been frozen in time, unable to move forward until you resolve the case.

As you review your case load this month, consider whether mediation could have resolved some of those cases sooner. Take action in 2011 to free your clients from unresolved conflict.

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