Race & Equity Committee Update

Peter, a Black man with black hair, wears a pale blue button-down shirt.By Peter D. Singh Jr.

The Race & Equity Committee has taken strides to increase diversity in the alternative dispute resolution field. The Committee’s focus is (1) to identify projects and programs that provide members of the section with opportunities to increase equity and access in the ADR field and to draw upon the talents, skill sets, and life experiences of all people working to resolve conflicts; (2) to support the creation of new opportunities; and (3) to encourage member and legal community participation in said initiatives.

The “Try Someone New” campaign is an example – a Diverse Mediator List that highlights the bios, practice areas, and contact information of certified mediators who are either racially or ethnically diverse or Spanish-speaking. The Committee, with the support of the Dispute Resolution Section, has also sponsored and subsidized mediation training for certification with scholarships for several neutrals of color.

Read more

Immunity Incorporation by Reference

Frank, a white man with grey hair, wears a white shirt, black tie and black suit.By Frank Laney

Recently the Commission has been asked to look at certain aspects of waivers and immunity for mediators. In preliminary discussions with Tara, it occurred to us (Tara) that there is a hole in the best practice advice that the Commission as well as the trainers may have been giving over the years.

Commonly, mediators have been advised that if you are mediating a case that is not referred or ordered to mediation by a court, then take advantage of the many features of the court program by incorporating the rules into your agreement to mediate.  While there are lots of valuable attributes to be found in the MSC and FFS Rules, one thing that is only in the statute is immunity for the mediator.

Read more

Deb Dilman Receives Harmony Award

Amy, a white soman with short lond hair and glasses, wears a pale grey shirt and plaid grey blazer.Sean, a white man with light brown hair, glasses, and a beard, wears a pale blue shirt and dark blue blazer.By Amy Cox Gruendel and Sean Vitrano

At the Annual Meeting of the Dispute Resolution Section this past March, attorney Deborah (Deb) Lynn Dilman became the inaugural recipient of the Section’s Harmony Award. The Harmony Award recognizes a section Member who, during the course of the award year, provides significant pro bono service as a dispute resolution professional; contributes to the development of the dispute resolution field through volunteerism and leadership; and participates in general civic, community, and charitable efforts during the award year.

Deb is an attorney at Southpark Family Law in Charlotte. She is a NCDRC-certified Family Financial Mediator and a Collaborative Law practitioner who enjoys helping her clients find creative solutions that provide peace of mind and hope for the future.

Read more

Dispute Resolution in a Nutshell

Salim, a Black man with black hair, wears a white shirt, yellow tie and navy jacket.By Salim Uqdah 

It’s been an excellent year for the Dispute Resolution Section. We awarded our inaugural Harmony Award to Deb Dilman of Southpark Family Law in Charlotte and the Peace Award to J. Randolph Ward. Section Chair Jim Cooley implemented meaningful task forces to foster innovation in the field. Finally, the Race & Equity Committee has launched a new “Try Someone New” campaign to promote the use of talented, diverse mediators across the state.

Read more

Pro Bono and Nominating Committee Updates

Salim, a Black man with black hair, wears a white shirt, yellow tie and navy jacket.By Salim Uqdah

We hope everyone’s 2023 is off to a great start! The Dispute Resolution Section asks all mediators, arbitrators, collaboratively trained practitioners/neutrals, paralegals, and attorneys to please complete this Pro Bono Survey.

The survey measures pro bono work in the field of dispute resolution (including but not limited to mediation, arbitration, and collaborative law cases). Your responses will help determine nominees for the NCBA Pro Bono Awards and the inaugural Harmony Award.

Read more

Beyond Court-Ordered Mediation: Creating a Task Force to Evaluate Future Dispute Resolution Needs of North Carolinians

Jim, a white man with white hair, wears a white shirt and black jacket.By Jim Cooley

We move forward.

The Council of the Dispute Resolution Section met on December 7, 2022, with 37 Council members, committee chairs and past section chairs in attendance. Up for discussion were seven possible task force topics and the results of a survey of Council members and other section leaders about those topics. The survey included questions about whether participants would actively participate in a task force and, if so, which of the topics would be their first or second choice. Here is a summary of the survey results:

Read more

When Should Mediators Be Able To Write The Settlement Agreement For Parties?

Frank, a white man with grey hair, wears a white shirt, black tie and black suit.By Frank Laney

In the early 1990s, I conducted mediations for divorcing couples and had a steady growing business. In most cases, one party or both had attorneys with whom they consulted, but those attorneys never came to the mediation meetings. So, I would draft a set of notes, recording the agreements the parties reached and one or the other would take it to an attorney to have it drafted into a binding separation agreement. Finally, I mediated with an elderly couple who had little money, and neither had an attorney. I prepared my notes and gave them to the couple and instructed them to have an attorney prepare their separation agreement. They had great difficulty finding an attorney who was willing to undertake that task, except one who would write it for $10,000, which they thought was outrageous. They came back to me to discuss what to do next. I remember the old man, haltingly pointing to the diploma on my wall. “You’re an attorney, aren’t you?”

Read more

Professional Mediator Guide to Certification

Salim, a Black man with black hair, wears a white shirt, yellow tie and navy jacket.By Salim Uqdah

Salim Uqdah, a Dispute Resolution Council Member and Co-Chair of the Dispute Resolution Pro Bono Committee, discusses his journey to certification for North Carolina Dispute Resolution Commission’s Superior Court, Family Financial, and Clerk Mediation programs.

What got you interested in the Dispute Resolution field?

There are two answers to that question. A quick summary is that sometimes, you have to be lost to find your true purpose. 

In 2016-2017, I felt lost and conflicted. I no longer wanted to pursue law school, and my crisis of faith and identity felt overwhelming and nerve-racking. After six to seven months of research, I realized that mediation was a viable option for me; it also helped to have the ADR coordinator sitting one cubicle behind me. I took the MSC training in March and opened my company, Uroboros Mediations, in June 2018. I gained expertise in other areas, like divorce coaching, collaborative law neutral facilitation, arbitration in FINRA cases, and dispute system design.

Read more

Pro Bono Committee Update

By Sean, a white man with brown hair, wears glasses, a pale blue shirt and navy suit.Sean Vitrano 

Greetings and happy autumn from the Pro Bono Committee of the Dispute Resolution Section!

Our team has been busy organizing for another successful bar year, and we invite you to participate.

The Pro Bono Committee works to identify projects and programs that provide members of the Dispute Resolution Section meaningful opportunities to use their skills and training to serve the public; support the creation of new pro bono DR opportunities and programs; and encourage section members to engage in pro bono service.

Read more

Thirty Years of Workers’ Comp Mediation

Judge Ward, a man with brown hair, sits on the bench in a courtroom.By Judge J. Randolph (“Randy”) Ward

This year marks the 30th anniversary of mediation in North Carolina‘s Workers’ Compensation system, introduced by a pair of North Carolina Bar Association CLEs presented live on September 21, 1992, at the Raleigh’s Velvet Cloak Inn. “Mediation for Workers’ Compensation Counsel” was held in the morning, and “Worker’s Compensation for Mediators” followed after lunch. Video replays were shown through February in Raleigh, Jacksonville and Charlotte. (See brochure, infra.)

When I was appointed to the N.C. Industrial Commission in early 1989, the state and its workforce had outgrown the agency’s resources. North Carolina was at or near the top in attracting new businesses, with an attractive climate and workforce, strong educational assets, and entrepreneurial banks. Industrial employment grew to 29% of the workforce in the early nineties. When I arrived, the Commission had twelve Deputy Commissioner positions, but only nine were hearing cases. I was told that there was a twelve- to eighteen-month backlog of cases awaiting hearings. Although the three Commissioners heard appeals from the Deputy Commissioners’ hearing decisions, I was the only lawyer on the Commission. Read more