Role of Attorneys in Court Ordered Mediations in North Carolina: The Pilot Phase

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This book explores the extent to which lawyers’ attitudes and practices have changed with the growth of mediation and whether lawyers have altered mediation to suit their needs. Such information is crucial to a complete understanding of how mandatory mediation operates in the context of legal practice within an adversary court system.


“The analysis in the book ultimately challenges readers to examine how best to conceive of the mediation program innovation in North Carolina—as manifestation of a national alternative dispute resolution (ADR) social movement, as an instance of court reform, or as creation of a public-private partnership between lawyers and the court to settle civil cases and solidify attorney control of civil case processing.”
Gordon’s framing of the issues provides a useful caution to those—including ADR advocates, judges and legislators—who expect more or different results than civil mediation programs have typically delivered. At the same time, she does not dismiss the modest impact that the Mediated Settlement Conference (MSC) program appears to have had. In fact, citizens generally embraced mediation; litigants appreciated the process; and there were modest changes at the margins in lawyers’ practices. But much remains the same as well. Some readers may conclude that a new mediation reform effort is necessary to take on much more directly the attorney practices that shape negotiation (in and out of mediation) and the experiences of disputants in civil litigation. Gordon’s analysis cautions that the political influence of attorneys in court reform initiatives makes significant transformations in lawyer practice unlikely.” – Prof. Craig McEwen, Bowdoin College

“[The author’s] treatment of the history of dispute resolution and her analysis of the Mediated Settlement Conference (MSC) program’s effect on attorneys’ approaches to settlement are thoughtful explanations of important developments in court alternative dispute resolution (ADR), itself continuing to evolve based on lessons and insights gleaned through research like hers.” – Prof. Timothy Hedeen, Kennsaw State University

“. . . contributes more evidence on the fact that the overall impact of court-connected mediation on overall caseloads is minimal. Gordon adds that it is even less because a healthy percentage of cases referred may leave the system through judge or attorney action. So how mandatory is mandatory mediation?” – Prof. Robert Hartley, University of Arizona

Table of Contents

Preface by Craig McEwen, Ph.D.
1. Lawyers, the Adversary System, and Mediation
2. Forerunners to the MSC Program and the Politics Behind Its Implementation
3. How Does the MSC Program Change Lawyers’ Practices?
4. Mediation and Settlement Negotiation
5. Why Do Lawyers Support Mediation?
6. Mediator Standards and Selection
7. Understanding the MSC Program: A Social Movement, a Court Reform, a Private-Public Partnership
Appendix: Data Collection/Methodology

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