Miles Mediation & Arbitration Services

ATLANTA OFFICE:
6 Concourse Pkwy., Suite 1950

Atlanta, GA 30328
(678) 320-9118

SAVANNAH OFFICE:
17 Park of Commerce Blvd.
Suite 301

Savannah, GA 31405
(912) 417-2879
All Fax: (404) 389-0831

February 15, 2017 No Comments

John Miles and Miles Mediation & Arbitration Services are featured in the most recent issue of Atlanta Attorney at Law Magazine.

The cover story includes an in-depth interview with John Miles, in which he discusses the firm’s ascent as a premier ADR firm in the Southeast. He sheds light on the expertise of Miles’ team leaders; the opening of the firm’s Savannah office; and the significant number of complex disputes handled by the firm’s experienced panel of neutrals.

The current issue debuted today in digital format and hits newsstands next week. Click here to view the full digital edition.

October 12, 2016 No Comments
Cliff Cobb, Esq.

Miles welcomes H. Clifton “Cliff ” Cobb as its newest mediator and member of Team Parent.

With more than 30 years of legal experience, Cliff has devoted most of his legal career to insurance defense. For 15 years he worked at Greer, Klosik, & Daugherty, and until recently as Senior Litigation Counsel at The Hartford, litigating in commercial and personal lines and practicing in the areas of premises liability, product liability, auto/commercial trucking accidents, worker’s compensation, and general liability work.

Cliff has litigated large business disputes and complex liability cases, and he also has 10 years of experience as a plaintiff’s attorney. He has presented at Institute for Continuing Legal Education seminars and is a published author. His pre-law career includes seven years of banking and financial transactions and two years at a Fortune 500 company.

“Team Parent is excited to welcome Cliff Cobb to Miles Mediation. Cliff brings a wealth of experience from working on the defense side for many years, where he was well-regarded and respected as a straight shooter and fair dealer,” said Team Leader Greg Parent. “He also had an entire banking career before entering the law and will also bring a large reserve of experience from the business world with him to our group. We’re excited to welcome him to Team Parent.”

Cliff received his Juris Doctorate from Woodrow Wilson College of Law in 1981 and his Bachelor of Science in Banking in 1976 from the University of Tennessee. He is a registered mediator with the Georgia Office of Dispute Resolution.

To view Cliff’s availability, click here.

Cliff Cobb after settling his first mediation at Miles Mediation.

Cliff Cobb after settling his first mediation at Miles Mediation.

 

August 24, 2016 No Comments
Wendy Williamson, Esq.

Miles is proud to announce the addition of Wendy Williamson, Esq. to its panel. Ms. Williamson will be based in the Miles Savannah office and will begin conducting mediations September 1, 2016. As a well-respected mediator and mediation trainer, Ms. Williamson will handle domestic and civil disputes at Miles and continue mediation training.

Prior to joining Miles, Ms. Williamson was the Executive Director of the Mediation Center in Savannah. She began her career as an associate and litigator with Oliver Maner & Gray, and after training under Edie Primm of the Atlanta Justice Center and joining the founding board of directors for the Mediation Center in 1986, she focused entirely on her career as a mediator and trainer. Over the past thirty years, Ms. Williamson has trained hundreds of mediators and conducted over 500 mediations.

Within the “Team Concept” model at Miles, Wendy Williamson will join Daniel Cohen’s team, and work in concert with fellow team member, Sally Akins, incoming President of the Georgia Defense Lawyers Association. Collectively, Ms. Williamson, Ms. Akins, and Mr. Cohen will strive to hear any case in need of alternative dispute resolution in Coastal-, Middle-, and South Georgia, as well as the Atlanta region and South Carolina.

“I have known Wendy Williamson for over 30 years, as a practicing attorney and as a mediator,” said Daniel Cohen, Miles Team Leader. “She is incredibly intelligent and keen on all aspects of mediation. Her ability to empathize with parties, educate and motivate counsel and parties, and to be creative in the mediation environment makes her one of the best mediators in the state,” Cohen continued. “We are lucky to have her as part of the Coastal Georgia-based team.”

Ms. Williamson is an appointed member of the Governor’s Georgia Commission on Child Support, which establishes and assesses child support guidelines, creates and maintains the Georgia Child Support Calculator, assists in crafting state legislation and provides training for judges, attorneys, and civilians. Among her many affiliations and accomplishments, most notably, Ms. Williamson served as Savannah Bar President in 2012-13 and in 2015 received the Robbie Robinson Award from the Savannah Bar Association for her service and advancement of the legal, political, social and civil rights of the citizens of Savannah.

“Mediation has been my passion for thirty years. The more complex, the greater the struggle, the bigger the hill, I find satisfaction in joining attorneys and their parties on the journey to finding closure through mediation,” said Ms. Williamson. “I am thrilled to be joining my good friends Danny Cohen and Sally Akins at Miles Mediation where I will spend my days doing what I love: mediating efficiently and effectively and crafting complete agreements.”

Ms. Williamson received her J.D. from University of Georgia School of Law in 1985 and her B.A. from the University of Georgia in 1982.

Click here to find out more about Ms. Williamson and view her availability.

 


About Miles Mediation

Voted the “Best Mediation Company in Georgia” by the Daily Report, Miles is the largest mediation firm in the state, with an experienced panel of neutrals who are leaders in Alternative Dispute Resolution. Known for its commitment to excellence in customer service and mediation/arbitration services, Miles handles all case sizes and types, most notably complex civil cases in areas of personal injury, medical negligence, domestic, commercial/business litigation, trucking, real estate and construction. For more information, call 678-320-9118.

July 20, 2016 No Comments

sally_akins

Miles is thrilled to announce the addition of Sarah “Sally” B. Akins to its panel as a member of Team Cohen.

Sally has mediated numerous cases over the years and will now mediate exclusively for Miles in the Savannah metro area. She is President-elect of the Georgia Defense Lawyers Association and a partner at Ellis, Painter, Ratteree & Adams in Savannah, where she has practiced since 1993.

Since serving as a judicial clerk after law school graduation, she has engaged exclusively in civil trial practice, handling cases involving premises liability, automobile and truck accidents, professional negligence (medical, legal and pharmaceutical) litigation involving counties and municipalities, including civil rights and zoning cases, insurance coverage litigation and products liability.

“I am delighted to be joining the Savannah office of Miles Mediation.  To be associated with such an outstanding group of mediators, especially Danny Cohen, is truly an honor,” said Akins.

Both Sally and Team Leader Danny Cohen are considered to be among the best mediators in Georgia.  “When John Miles asked me to add to my team, I immediately thought of Sally Akins,” said Team Leader Danny Cohen. “It is so important to surround yourself with people you know and trust.  As a litigator, I knew Sally to be a zealous advocate for her clients, but I always admired how she remained civil, fair and objective, even in the throes of an adversarial situation.  Those are the exact attributes that make one a great mediator,” continued Mr. Cohen. “Sally has significant litigation experience, but she will remain fair, objective and sincere as she navigates parties and counsel through the mediation process.  I am so delighted to have her on board, and her name further adds tremendous credibility to Miles Mediation’s new Savannah office.”

In addition to serving as President-elect of the Georgia Defense Lawyers Association, Sally has also served on its board since 2006. Among many awards and honors, she has been recognized as a Georgia Super Lawyer since 2010 and a Top 50 Female Georgia Super Lawyer since 2012. She has also been included in The Best Lawyers in America since 2012 and Georgia Trend’s “Georgia’s Legal Elite. During her three-year tenure as Editor-in-Chief of GDLA’s Georgia Defense Lawyer, the publication was awarded “Best Newsletter” by the State Bar of Georgia (2013-2015).

Sally received her Juris Doctorate from Mercer University in 1990 and her Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of Florida in 1987.

To learn more about Sally or view her availability, click here.

 


About Miles Mediation

Voted the “Best Mediation Company in Georgia” by the Daily Report, Miles is the largest mediation firm in the state, with an experienced panel of neutrals who are leaders in Alternative Dispute Resolution. Known for its commitment to excellence in customer service and mediation/arbitration services, Miles handles all case sizes and types, most notably complex civil cases in areas of personal injury, medical negligence, domestic, commercial/business litigation, trucking, real estate and construction. For more information, call 678-320-9118.

May 19, 2016 No Comments

Gino Brogdon, Jr. Esq.

 

As a member of Team Parent, Gino Brogdon, Jr. has already mediated dozens of cases for Miles Mediation. He handles a range of high-value cases–from Auto and Trucking to Medical Malpractice. He is a board member of the Atlanta Bar Association’s “Litigation Section” and serves on the board of Gate City Bar Association. He recently presented at a Young Lawyers Division CLE on mediation preparation, and this month completed the Georgia Trial Lawyers Association’s 2015-2016 Leadership Education & Advanced Direction (LEAD) Program Class.

In addition to his impressive list of accomplishments, Gino recently received two notable awards: “Top 40 under 40″ by the National Trial Lawyers and “Top 10 Under 40” by the National Academy of Personal Injury Attorneys. 

Get to know another side of Gino, as he opens up and shares some interesting details about his life.

Read More    »

April 26, 2016 No Comments

 

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We’re pleased to announce the addition of Rusty Grant, Esq. as the newest mediator at Miles and member of Team Parent. Also a partner with Cruser & Mitchell, LLP, Rusty has extensive trial experience with a focus on civil litigation, including automobile/trucking, premises liability, wrongful death and professional liability. He has been recognized as a Rising Star in the 2012, 2015 and 2016 editions of Georgia Super Lawyers, and is admitted to the State Bar of Georgia, Supreme Court of Georgia, Georgia Court of Appeals and the United States District Court for the Northern District of Georgia.

“Rusty brings energy, enthusiasm and talent to Team Parent,” said John Miles. “His addition to the team allows Miles customers to select a quality mediator for any type of case. It’s no wonder Team Parent has become one of the fastest growing and most successful teams at Miles.”

To learn more about Rusty or to schedule a mediation, click here.

 

February 9, 2016 No Comments

Why did you want to pursue a career in law? Was there a specific event or individual who impacted your decision? 

Screen Shot 2016-02-09 at 12.56.04 PMI wanted to make a difference and help people.  I hoped to do something meaningful, and the law allows for creativity. I shadowed a couple of lawyers in high school, and worked for a law firm during the summers in college.  I also worked for an attorney for a year between college and law school.  I enjoyed learning different aspects of the law, and thought a Juris Doctor degree would be valuable for any type of career.  I wanted to be a prosecutor to help victims, and I enjoyed doing jury trials in Superior Court.  I occasionally went to Juvenile Court and realized that Juvenile Courts offered the best avenue to help families and children.  I enjoy serving as a Juvenile Court Judge because of the creativity to create programs and services to help our youth and improve families.  This is one of the many reasons I enjoy mediation – it allows for creativity in problem solving and resolves disputes in a more positive way.

Why is mediation important? 

The confidential mediation process saves time waiting on cases to go to trial.  It saves money for individual parties as well as the court system, and helps cut down on the backlog of court cases. It prevents the continued stress of going through a trial in court, which can be traumatic for adults as well as children.  Also, the parties have more control when they make their own decisions regarding settlement.

What are some of the most common misconceptions about mediation?

One of the most common misconceptions is that mediation fails if no settlement is reached.  This is not true.  A primary goal is certainly to settle the case.  However, there are other goals during mediation that have significant value.  One goal is to narrow the issues of dispute. Mediation helps identify which issues remain in disagreement and clarifies the priorities of the parties. This helps the attorneys focus on the real issues. Mediation also provides information to the parties. Cases sometimes settle weeks after mediation because of something learned at the mediation.

Where Did You Grow Up?

Wilmington, NC

How did you end up in Savannah?

My husband is from Savannah and was already working here when I graduated from law school.  We were married two weeks after graduation in 1995, and I have lived in Savannah since then.

What does family mean to you?

Everything.  I am fortunate to have a wonderful husband who is also my closest friend, three fantastic children, a loving mother, two amazing sisters and a step-father and step-brother I have loved for 25 years. Our family is very close.

What are your top five personal values?

Faith. Family. Honesty. Commitment. Compassion.

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What’s your favorite book?

This is a tough one because I am an avid reader. I usually read several books a week. Lately, I would say Greg Iles’ novel, The Quiet Game, but I also love the Game of Thrones book series by George Martin, Stieg Larson’s The Girl With the Dragon Tatoo series, and the Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling.

If you could change something in the world, what would it be?

I would like for every child to feel safe and loved.

How do you unwind?

Reading and spending time with my husband, Ty, and our three children: Parker, Anna and Ben.

What would you sing at karaoke night?

Last Dance by Donna Summer

Who do you consider the most influential person in your life and why? 

My mother, Linda F. Robinson.  She is the strongest, most loving person I know.  She instilled values and a sense of independence in me and my two sisters.  She taught us to always do our very best and encouraged us to work toward our goals. My father died when I was 20 years old, and my mother stepped up to run his business, Parker’s Collision Center. She taught us to rely on our faith, family and friends.

What is your favorite thing about Coastal Georgia?

Not the gnats!  I enjoy the beauty and peacefulness of the water, and the wildlife on the marshes is beautiful.  Having lived in Wilmington, another coastal town, I like having access to the beaches and rivers along the coast. Spending time with my family on the water is a favorite activity as well.

 

 

November 30, 2015 No Comments

We asked Team Leader Susan Forsling to tell us about her team and what makes them standout:

Susan Forsling:

“Team Forsling is made up of credible and committed mediators; our credibility comes comes from our individual and collective experience with clients and cases. We have the courtroom covered with practical expertise from the bench and both bars. We apply energy, creativity, effective communication with clients and perseverance to our litigation experience to get every kind of case settled. #wegotitcovered.”

To learn More about Team Forsling visit milesmediation.com

October 26, 2015 No Comments

We asked Team Leader David Nutter to tell us about his team and what makes them standout:

David Nutter:

“The members of Team Nutter are very comfortable in the courtroom and the boardroom; they are very effective working with injured plaintiffs and with company presidents. We are able to cut through the complex to see the core of compromise. We have an experienced wisdom that perceives the root of problems and helps litigants reach the place of reasoned resolution. ”

To learn More about Team Nutter visit milesmediation.com

 

September 20, 2015 No Comments

We asked Joe Murphey to tell us about his team and what makes them standout:
Joe Murphey:

“As I was saying to John today, Team Murphey has what I like to call “depth and breadth”. The depth is the many years of combined trial experience of our team – particularly Steve, Wayne, Todd, Glenn and me. No other team has tried more tort cases than us. The breadth is the fact we have mediators who are plaintiff’s attorneys, defense attorneys or who have been both. Being able to see the issues from various perspectives is important, and our team offers the option of mediators who have specialized on one side, the other or both. ”

To learn More about Team Murphey visit milesmediation.com

 

September 1, 2015 No Comments

We asked Team Leader Greg Parent to tell us about his team and what makes them stand out.
Greg Parent:

“Team Parent is Energetic, Diverse, Engaging, Exhaustive, Effective, Knowledgeable, Experience, Intuitive, and Creative.

We have been through mediations sitting in every chair in the room, as adjusters, defense attorneys, plaintiffs attorneys, and even as a judge.

We’ve seen it all.

We are diverse with a broad spectrum of experience and indefatigable in our disciplined work ethic. We exhaust all efforts to get cases resolved during the mediation and remain focused following an impasse, remaining actively involved with all of the parties to try and bring about resolution.

We are compassionate and intuitive with our approach to the parties, giving nuanced and thoughtful counsel throughout the mediation process. ”

To learn more about Team Parent and to book a member for your next mediation, check out MilesMediation.com

 

August 24, 2015 No Comments

Written by Jamie Miles

Miles Mediation Team Leader Joe Murphey can read a poker face. A skill he developed in the mediation conference room by day and in his living room at night. This is because his wife of 25 years and fellow attorney, Susan Murphey is a ranked amateur poker player.

In talking with Susan about her hobby (and passion), I admitted my knowledge of card playing comes from the ‘70s game show Joker’s Wild. And that was just a big slot machine.

So I asked a lot of questions and raised my Poker I.Q.

Susan plays both “limit” and “no limit” Texas Hold ‘em. As we talked, complex card strategy tripped off her tongue as a Shark Tank judge sizes up a contestant.

In tournament poker, there are two main circuits: The World Series of Poker (WSOP) and The World Poker Tour (WPT). The annual WSOP tournament in Las Vegas runs for 6 to 8 weeks every summer. Events range from a buy-in of less than $1000 up to $100,000 buy-in events with the pros. The goal for most players is “to cash” in the event. Susan said typically to make it into the money, players need finish in the top 10 percent of the entry pool. So out of 300 people in a tournament, the top 30 finishers can expect to get paid. If 5000 entered, the top 500 make money.

The first time Susan played in a WSOP event in Las Vegas, she played 12 hours straight. She explained how they play for two hours, get a 15 minute break, then play for another two hours and so on for as long your luck holds. Of that first tournament she remembered, “It was a grueling day.” Her run ended when she played a good hand, only to have a fluky set of cards at the table beat her. As she left, the announcer stated that everyone still seated made the money. “I was heartbroken knowing that if I had thrown away those cards and not played that hand I would have cashed the first time had ever I sat down at one of these tournaments.” When playing in a Vegas tournament, there’s a good chance your competition is a professional; someone good enough to make a living playing. “It’s a challenge to play against people who play a whole lot more than I do. And obviously take it a lot more seriously.”

In addition to the larger, high profile tournaments, the WSOP has circuit events. These are smaller tournaments at casinos around the country typically with a $365 buy-in. The prize money is not as much but gives “weekend warriors” more opportunities to play. “I think the word has gotten out about these tournaments,” Susan said admitting the competition has become more robust. This July, Susan travelled to the 2015 WSOP National Championship Series at Harrah’s Cherokee. Phil Hellmuth, who’s won more WSOP bracelets than any other player, was there. “It gives an amateur player like me – one who is dabbling in it – a chance to try my skills against the people you see play on T.V.”

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This got me to thinking. How do they decide who sits at table for the start of these tournaments? If you’ve got the buy-in, does that mean you could end up sitting next to Phil Hellmuth or Daniel Negreanu? In Susan’s observation, the seating assignments seem pretty random. She supposed that as people buy-in, a computer assigns a table and seat. This random selection helps (or hurts) everyone equally. Not only does it affect the caliber of players at your table, Susan said, “In poker, it makes a big difference who sits at your left or right.”

She explained. “If I’ve got someone really aggressive to my right that means they are going to act — whether they call a bet, raise a bet or fold — before I have to act.” She continued, “If someone raises every hand no matter what they are holding and they are seated on your right, you can see what they’ve done before you play your hand. But if a crazy aggressive person is on your left, then you have to decide what you are going to do first.”

What Susan loves about tournament poker.

The excitement. The mental challenge. “It’s very draining.” She can play 12 hours straight, not take any breaks, bust out on an unlucky hand and have nothing to show for all her effort. She laughed that her husband Joe asks, “And you find this fun?”

She also likes meeting the interesting people at her table. “It’s a great social time but it’s also a lot of analyzing what people are doing.”

The psychological element of poker.

“Playing poker is like golf, you never get to be perfect. You are always learning new ways to play.” For instance, a player might do a certain behavior when he has a strong hand. Susan laughed that if he does that behavior again, you start second guessing your assessment. Do they have a strong hand or are they bluffing and really have a weak hand this time? Not only do you observe other players mannerisms, you need to be sure your behavior doesn’t transmit anything to the table. “If you’ve got pocket aces, you can’t start breathing heavy and shaking your hand.”

Some players wear sunglasses to hide their pupils dilating upon seeing a strong hand. Susan typically wears sunglasses on her head as she finds it harder to see in the cards darker casinos. When playing an important hand, pros will often pull a hood over their head and pull down the sunglasses. “They want to give as little information away as possible to make it harder for the person playing them to decide what to do. A lot of poker players won’t talk at all when in a hand because they don’t want to give any information away.”

“It’s fun. You get some crazy people at your table. Then you get some folks who don’t want to say anything or do anything. And then you get a bunch of nice people who are like you just out to have a good time.”

Women in poker.

“Very few women have won a WSOP event.” At this year’s Main Event, the Last Woman Standing, 27-year-old Kelly Minkin of Phoenix (also an attorney), was eliminated in 29th place out of 6,420 who started. Susan has noticed more women players in tournaments. Out in Las Vegas recently, there were five women at her table, which she said was unheard of when she started. High profile celebrities like actress Jennifer Tilly winning a tournament helps chip away at the Boy’s Club image.

Susan said that while playing in the WSOP Women’s Event this year, she met an 82-year-old lady playing with her daughter in law. It was her first time playing and was a big deal for her.

Poker, a young person’s sport?

“There are lots of 21 year olds winning big tournaments.”

Which got me to wondering why she thought that was the case. “With poker the more hands you play, the more you learn how people act and the more you learn how the cards are going to fall. So you get better — by playing more.” A lot of kids played online before it became illegal. They could get on the internet and play four games at once, playing thousands of hands. They got a lot of experience quicker. “The old time people who don’t play online and just go to the local casinos, it takes years to get a thousand hands verses these kids who could get it on the internet in a couple of days.”

“A lot of these are smart kids who are math majors in college and they use the math side of poker to decide how to play and how to bet. Whereas a lot of the older players do more on gut feeling and instinct verses the math.”

This year the WSOP November Nine whittled down from this July’s Main Event in Las Vegas (the final table played in November to decide the 2015 WSOP champion), has a 61 year old and 72 year old. Well, besides one fellow at 36, the other five players are in their 20s. Early 20s.

How did her love of the game start?

“My mom loved to play games. We played Gin Rummy and Rummy 500 all the time when I was a kid.” When her family would visit her grandmother in Connecticut, they would frequent card parties at the local hall. They played a game called High Low Jack. “Four people would be at a table. You’d play some rounds, then move around the room to another table.” The highest scores (and lowest scores) would get prizes. Playing these card parties at a young age, Susan learned to enjoy the competitive nature of card playing and the atmosphere.

Susan’s tournament payouts.

In 2013 at a Cherokee WSOP event, she finished in 36th place. There were 542 participants at the start. The winner in that tournament won $27,000.

In 2011, she finished in 410th place in a tournament with 4567 entries. In that event there were 468 paid spots and the winner took home $648,000.

As for hitting the big money in a tournament, Susan remains an optimistic realist. “I need a little more luck. I’m not quitting my day job to go play poker. It’s a fun hobby. One of these days, I’m hopeful I’ll get lucky and make a deep run in one of these tournaments and get a six-figure pay day.”

The couple met at Emory Law School graduating with the class of 1989. They have two children, 20-year-old Jacob a junior at Northwestern majoring in Journalism and History. And Audra, 17 and a senior at Marietta’s Walton High School. They practice law together with their firm, Murphey’s Law Firm, LLC.

July 27, 2015 No Comments

At Miles Mediation, we believe in creating a culture around family. When you walk in our doors, we want you to feel welcomed like you’re family and make yourself at home. So come on in, and get to know us better…

Why did you want to go into law?

My Dad and I used to watch every episode of Perry Mason and The Paper Chase when I was growing up. To me those programs embodied the nobility and importance of the legal profession, and played a big part in my decision to go into law. My dad was also a lawyer, and in many ways I wanted to follow in his footsteps, both athletically and professionally, so those were my biggest influences.

What did you want to grow up to be when you were a kid?

I wanted to be a professional athlete of some kind. Again, my Dad was a big influence. He played professional baseball and semi-pro basketball. My grandfather also played professional baseball. But he never pushed me into any one sport so I played them all growing up. In the end I wasn’t good enough to be a professional in any of them, and that is when I made my final decision to go into law. I wanted to be a trial lawyer because it was the part of the legal profession that most closely reminded me of sports.

Where did you grow up?

Many would claim I have not grown up yet. I was born in Miami, Florida and lived there until I was 15, at which time I moved to Atlanta and went to Tucker High School.

What does “family” mean to you?

Family means everything. It is unconditional love and support. Whether you have daily contact or very sporadic contact with other members of your family, they are always there for you and you are always there for them.

Why do you love your job?
I love my job as a mediator because I get a level of satisfaction bringing parties together to resolve cases that I do not get as a litigator. Even though you will hear people say that a good settlement means nobody leaves happy, I have found for the most part that a good settlement leaves everyone satisfied. In litigation, after a trial, generally one side is happy and the other is not, even though both sides may have fought hard and fair to win, and both sides felt they should have won.

What is your favorite food?

That one is too hard to answer because I love food (and it shows). I love a perfectly cooked steak, a great pasta dish, most any type of seafood, Peking duck, Chik-fil-a, and the cookies at Miles.

What would you say your spirit animal is?

I have never been asked this one before. Probably a cat. I’m social when I want to be, independent when I want to be, finicky for sure, like to give and receive affection, and occasionally hack up a hairball.

What is your favorite sport?

When I was young anything, but now my favorite sport to play is golf, followed by tennis, softball and rollerblading. My favorite sport to attend is hockey, though I don’t get to do that anymore since we no longer have a hockey team. I have season tickets to UGA football and the Braves.

How do you unwind?

Golf is at the top of the list. I would play every day if I could. To me, nothing relaxes me or gets my mind off things better than a round of golf with friends or strangers. Next choice is the beach, any beach, but my favorite is Kiawah Island. Great place to relax and unwind. Other things I like to do to unwind include a nice dinner out, movies, working out, and on occasion getting together with some friends for trivia.

What is your favorite thing about Atlanta?

Atlanta is great for the things I love to do. I love to golf, and Atlanta has a lot of great places to play. I love to eat, and Atlanta has tons of great restaurants. I love sports, and Atlanta is a great place to play or watch sports. Even though I wasn’t asked, what is my least favorite thing about Atlanta? Definitely the pollen in the Spring.

To find out more about Glenn or to book him for your next mediation, click here:

http://milesmediation.com/team-member/glenn-a-loewenthal-esq/

June 1, 2015 No Comments

Written By Jamie Miles

I love talking to people, learning their stories. Every now and then, I meet someone whose story not only impresses me – it inspires me. And then she turns out to such a nice person.

Darn. They’re just about perfect. I might have to start stalking her till we become besties.

Susan Forsling is that kind of person. The newest mediator at Miles has a wonderful story – and it’s far from over. She’s just starting another chapter.

Over the phone recently, Susan said this was a “decade birthday year” for her in August. As I’ve had a few decade birthdays myself, I commented on how young she is considering all that she’s accomplished in her career.

Susan replied with a laugh, “I’m not old. I’ve just been younger than you a bit longer.”

Here’s a quick look at this driven legal professional.

Raised in a suburb of Baltimore, by Susan’s admission, “I was a busy, busy girl.” With a working mom and dad who travelled, Susan and her sister “learned to be very independent and self-sufficient.” While completing her undergraduate work at prestigious Keynon College in Ohio, she supplemented scholarship money and money her father borrowed by working three jobs. She laughed, “I’ve held one to three jobs, since I was 16 years old.”

After college, Susan entered the University of Georgia School of Law. There she met husband Mark. After graduating in 1982, Mark clerked then joined the firm he has been with throughout his career as an expert in land use law.

Susan started her legal career by forming a firm and one of their clients was the Fulton County government.

“I was the first female attorney Fulton County hired. Then I started the Fulton County in house office. I worked my way up and was appointed Fulton County Attorney in 1992.”

What does one do as county attorney?

“As the Fulton County Attorney, I was the chief legal officer for the government of Fulton County. I was in charge of the entire law department, including the transaction side, the policy side, the litigation side. The hard part of the job was that I had seven bosses. Republicans, Democrats, male, female, black and white.

On any given day with four votes, they could fire me. I had that job for a little over six years until I went on the bench. That was the job that best prepared me for the bench. Not only because of the diversity of issues I addressed but also the temperament one has to develop to be the lawyer for seven elected officials.”

What were the big issues you worked with as Fulton County Attorney during that time, 1992 – 1997?

“The Olympics. I did all the legal work at that time working with other lawyers.
Other issues were: tax code issues, Grady, zoning. Not to mention any issues that come up in a large corporation. Human resources issues, employment issues. Fulton County was really booming. North Fulton was taking off.

I loved it. I would joke with people whatever was on the front page of the Metro/State section of the paper was what I would be going doing that day. You never knew.

It was a fun job but it was a 14-hour a day job. I had two small children (Brad now 30 and Leslie, 28) and it really took its toll on me. It would take its toll on anybody.

It was tough, tough. When the governor appointed me, Mark said, ‘I’m going to write him a letter and thank him that I get my wife back.’”

When and how did your appointment to the bench happen?

“I tried five times with two governors before I got appointed. I was always the bridesmaid, never the bride. Governor Miller called and said, ‘Susan, your perseverance is paying off. I’m going to appoint you.’ The AJC writer wrote the headline, ‘Forsling Finally Gets It,’” she laughed. But also added, “It got discouraging. It was very much a growth time. (With her faith.) Those were tough years.”

Once on the bench, Forsling took on the task of creating a DUI Accountability Court based on a national model.

“The thing I’m most proud about was an accountability court for repeat DUI offenders. We began in 2007 with people who had multiple DUIs. Instead of putting them in jail, we put them through a outpatient rehab program. We’d monitor them closely. I’d see them every other week and try to break that cycle. That was the most rewarding thing I was able to do on the bench.

The lives that were transformed. The families that were transformed. It was amazing what a little accountability will do.”

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The highlights of her judicial career:

“Aside from creating the accountability court, it would be presiding over the trials — the civil jury trials. I loved to try cases as a judge and as a lawyer. I loved watching the lawyers work and interact with juries. The legal issues that would come up. The evidence issues. I just loved all that.”

Now that Susan mediates full time, I wondered her impressions on the differences of issue resolution in the courts verses mediation.

“Adversarial verses conciliatory. Once you get in the courtroom, you at the peak of a professional adversarial situation (not personal).

Another huge difference is the judge and the jury are in control. The parties have lost control of the outcome. The judge makes evidence decisions and the judge charges on the law, and the jury ultimately is going to make the decision. So it leaves your hands and goes into the hands of third parties.

I tell people in mediation this is the only day that everybody in the case is going to be on the same page with the same goal.”

Any thoughts on the future of mediation?

“Alternate dispute resolution is here to stay because litigation has become so expensive and so time consuming. It’s integral now in the culture of our legal system. “ She thought that smaller jurisdictions outside the metro area will have to gain better understanding of mediation and have good mediators available.

Although Susan mediates full time, she also sits as a senior judge. Remember she has always held two jobs since she was 16. She described it to me in layman’s terms. “It’s like a substitute teacher. I can sit as a substitute judge in state court or superior court anywhere in the state.” She added with a laugh, “You know what happens when a substitute teacher comes in.”

Which got me wondering? Having been intimately connected with so many facets of the legal profession, is there something different when you walk into the courtroom wearing the robe?

“No question. It’s an incredible responsibility and privilege and when you put that robe on. You assume the role. You assume that demeanor. And you assume the responsibility.

It’s a tremendous privilege but it’s a great responsibility to treat everybody fairly and make really good decisions. I still bring my personality to the courtroom. I don’t check that at the door. But that sense of responsibility weighs heavily as soon as the robe goes on. And I welcome that, I really do.”

When we spoke, Susan was set to fly to Thailand for the fifth time on a missionary trip. She’s also been to Africa four times.

“We have a team. My responsibility is prison ministry particularly women in prison. To have a judge who comes over there to tell them they have a future and they are loved — that there is grace and mercy for them. They have never heard that.

God did not put me here to be quiet. I go and deliver a message of hope.”

For such a vibrant person with all her varied life experiences, I wondered what does she plan in the future or does she take one day at time?

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I do both. God calls us to take one day at time and not to worry about tomorrow because tomorrow has it’s own problems.

But I’m a builder, I realized that when I started to reflect on my career.

I literally lost my job right when I got back from my honeymoon. I built a small law firm with two other partners. Then I built the in house office. Then I built the DUI court. And now I’m building a mediation practice and at some point I hope to build a team. I know for me to be happy I have to have my next building project.”

For now at Miles, Susan’s mediation practice is in all areas of civil mediation including complex civil.

It’s easy to become excited spending 30 minutes chatting with an inspirational person such as Susan Forsling. When I mentioned that to her at the end of our conversation and she laughed saying,

“I don’t think of myself that way. I just think of myself as busy. And happy.”

April 13, 2015 No Comments

Miles Mediation is very pleased to welcome Hon. Susan B. Forsling to our mediation family. She will join David Nutter as the newest member of Team Nutter.

Hon. Susan B. Forsling served as Judge of the State Court of Fulton County from 1997 until she stepped down on July 1, 2013. She was appointed a senior judge by Governor Deal on July 8, 2013. As a judge, she presided over general and complex civil and misdemeanor criminal cases and also presided over the Fulton County DUI Court Program. During this time, Judge Forsling also served as a pro hac Judge of the Fulton County Superior Court. From 1992 until her judicial appointment in 1997, Judge Forsling was the Fulton County Attorney, serving as chief legal officer for the government. She was formerly a partner in the law firm of Young & Murphy and was a Special Assistant Attorney General. Judge Forsling has served as an adjunct professor of pre-trial litigation at Emory University, a faculty member of Atlanta College of Trial Advocacy, and a faculty member of the National Institute of Trial Advocacy. She has also served as a Master of the Bleckley Inn of Court and is a member of the Lawyers Foundation of Georgia. She speaks locally and nationally on topics relating to the trial of complex civil cases.

Areas of Expertise
Personal Injury
Premises Liability
Medical Negligence
Wrongful Death
Professional Liability
Commercial Contracts
Local Government
Civil Rights
Bad Faith Insurance Claims
ADR Training
Education
Bar Admissions
Court Admissions
Legal Employment
Professional Affiliations
Publications & Presentations
Community Service

Education:
University of Georgia School of Law, J.D., 1980
Kenyon College, B.A. cum laude, with distinction, 1977

Court Admissions:

United State Supreme Court
U.S. Court of Appeals, 11th Circuit
U.S. District Court, Northern District of Georgia
Supreme Court of Georgia
Georgia Court of Appeals

Professional Affiliations:

National Academy of Distinguished Neutrals
Georgia Academy of Mediators & Arbitrators
Georgia Supreme Court Commission on Public Trust and Confidence in the Judiciary
Panel to Recommend Candidates for United States Magistrate to Judges of United States District Court (member on two separate panels)
Council of State Court Judges (Legislative Committee, Accountability Courts Committee)
National Association of Drug Court Professionals (2007-2013)
State Bar of Georgia (Committee on Professionalism; Minority Counsel Program; High School Mock Trial Committee; Local Government Law Section (Chairperson, 1994-1995))
Atlanta Bar Association (Former Board Member, Judicial Section)
Bleckley Inn of Court (Former Master)
Georgia Association of Women Lawyers
Gate City Bar Association
Lawyers Club of Atlanta (1985 – 1995)
Intrastate Moot Court Competition (Judge)

Legal Employment:

Judge, State Court of Fulton County (1997 – 2013)
County Attorney, Fulton County (1992 – 1997)
Adjunct Professor, Emory University, Pre-Trial Litigation (1995 – 1996)
Acting County Attorney, Fulton County (1992)
Deputy Director Staff Counsel, Fulton County (1988 – 1992)
Associate County Attorney, Fulton County (1980 – 1988)
Special Assistant Attorney General (1981 – 1988)
Young & Murphy (Partner, 1981 – 1988)
Webb, Young, Daniel & Murphy (Associate, 1980 – 1981)

Community Service:

Girl Scout Troop 763 (Troop Leader)
Johnson Ferry Baptist Church (Member, Decision Counselor, Parliamentarian Bible Study Leader, Prayer Intercessor)
Leadership Atlanta (Class of 1993 – 1994)
Leadership Sandy Springs (Class of 1992 – 1993; Board of Trustees, 1993; Retreat Committee, Co-Chair; Program Day on Government, Chair
North Harbor Homeowners Association (Co-President, 1992 – 1994)

To book Judge Forsling for your next mediation, please visit the Team Nutter page.

April 2, 2015 No Comments

Written by Jamie Miles

You bring a 7-pound, 13-ounce bundle home from the hospital and blink. Suddenly, 21 years have passed and that ball of blankets is a young man sipping coffee at your kitchen counter discussing global economic trends.

Clients and customers at Miles Mediation might recognize this fellow as Jake Miles, my eldest child. On breaks from college, Jake puts on a coat and tie and heads into Atlanta with Dad. At Dad’s suggestion, I sat down with Jake on a recent visit home and learned a lot about his future plans and how he is working with Miles Mediation.

Jake is a junior studying business management and accounting at Presbyterian College, a small liberal arts school in Clinton, South Carolina.

Accounting? Said his mother who long, long ago in a galaxy far, far away broke out in a sweat attempting to balance her checkbook.

Jake as a baby

Jake as a baby

Jake: “Accounting was not what I intended to study in college. I thought maybe history, English or maybe psychology? Business was a possibility. With a liberal arts education, you take general education courses. My sophomore year, one was Introductory Accounting. I found out I was really good at this accounting thing. And I enjoyed it more than any other course I’d taken at PC.”

Mom: As a layperson, I think accounting and think math wizard, pencil pocket protectors and slide rules.

Jake: “If you can add, subtract, multiply and divide you can succeed in accounting. It’s not like economics or statistic where you have to know high level algebra. It’s the theory. How do you record and summarize transactions and present that information to businesses’ investors, owners?

Mom: What other business courses have you taken?

Jake: “I really enjoy Intermediate Accounting. We talk about stockholders’ equity and how companies issue stocks. Macroeconomics which focuses on global trends in economics — governments and industries. Microeconomics – the principles of supply and demand, individual companies. Marketing, Computer Applications, which is working with Excel.

Mom: You and your father talk a lot about the business side of Miles Mediation. For which I am thankful because it kind of makes my mind want to take a nap we he tries to discuss it with me. What do you all talk about? And how do you stay awake?

Jake: “After my sophomore year, I had taken Cost Accounting, which focuses on analyzing different costs of running a business. Using what I had just learned, I was able to help dad further understand the different costs he was taking on and how they affected his company. We looked at customer behavior, annual trends, more specifically how the number of mediations in a month relate the cost of running the business for a month.

Mom: What do you help with now?

Jake: “I keep track of revenue on a day-to-day basis. I look at what mediation and legal community is doing.”

Mom: What do you see as the future of mediation?

Jake: “I think mediation has so much room for growth nationwide. In Business Law, we talked about how more and more people don’t want to go to trial and how companies want to settle cases.”

Jake at College with friends

Mom: Seems like things change so fast these days. What general business principles apply to mediation, a law firm or any small business?

Jake: “The customer runs the business. As a business owner, if you don’t listen to customer wants, in our capitalistic society someone will fill that need for them. And you will become obsolete.”

Mom: Business owners are confronted with change all the time. What separates the winners from those just keeping the doors open?

Jake: “I think there are three main reasons businesses don’t adjust to changing market conditions.

* Some owners don’t listen to what clients are saying. Not that they wouldn’t consider change, there’s no real way for customer to express their wants.

· Some owners realize the market is changing and customers wants and demands are changing but they don’t care or think that it’s just a trend that won’t last, a fad. An example being newspapers who dragged their feet moving to online or weekly magazines like TIME not adjusting to an online format that works.

· For whatever reason, some companies can’t change or they can’t change fast enough. They will survive but they’ll never be able to regain that brand and market share they had. An example being Blackberry. Everyone had a Blackberry. Then in 2007 Steve Jobs and Apple came out with the touch screen phone. No one thought it would catch on. Blackberry didn’t adjust and will be a business school case study for eternity.”

Jake and Jamie at the Peachtree Road Race last summer

Mom: What are your summer plans?

Jake: “In May, I’ll be studying for two weeks in northwest England at Edge Hill University with a group from the Presbyterian Business School. The two classes we will take will be International Marketing and Social Injustice, unethical work practices in history and today, covering issues such as child labor laws.

Mom: Plans after graduation. Other than being self-supporting.

Jake: “I’m going to get my Masters in Accounting to be a CPA and plan on a law degree after.”

Mom: As a parent, I’m wondering what you could do for income during all this extra school?

The Goliath Grouper Jake caught on shore last summer.

The Goliath Grouper Jake caught on shore last summer.

Jake: “Once I get my CPA, that means I’ll be more than qualified to do tax returns, and help businesses’ with quarterly taxes, etc.

Mom: The future often takes turns from what we’ve planned — but what would you like to do business-wise with an accounting and legal background?

Jake: “Many different things. All my plans include having my company. I enjoy the thought of starting a business and growing a business. The pinnacle of it all would be taking a business public.”

Jake said for now he monitors the business world by listening to CNBC’s Squawk Box each morning. With a Yahoo Finance App, he scans articles before markets open. “I have a stock portfolio that I manage and trade to mainly to learn the process.” He added with a smile, “I want to make mistakes now before I invest large amounts of capital.”

This was fun for mom. And enlightening too. Can’t wait to see what happens. xoxo

March 9, 2015 No Comments

Written by Jamie Miles

As receptionist for Miles Mediation, Keyonna Calloway is often the first face visitors see. “I make sure things are handled right. Whatever the client needs, I’m here to accommodate them.” She added with a laugh, “I’m the friendly face of Miles.” Keyonna sees her role as one that sets the tone for the rest of a client’s day. “Some people just need a smile sometimes.”

Raised in Atlanta, Keyonna will turn 21 this April 20. These days, she works weekdays at Miles until 2:30 p.m. Her afternoons spent in class at Georgia Perimeter Dunwoody Campus. After accumulating enough course credits, Keyonna plans to major in International Business at Kennesaw State with a minor in Communications.

Attending S.W. DeKalb High School, Keyonna spent her first semester in the ROTC. She enjoyed traveling with the group but soon she wanted a new challenge. Her second semester, she joined the band. S.W. DeKalb has a long tradition of excellence in music and the marching band is no exception.

Starting out on clarinet, she found the clarinet section around 60 strong. This is one huge band. The larger sections lacked the intimacy of the smaller sections. “I wasn’t getting to know my section leaders. Although I was enjoying myself, I felt like a number. “

Keyonna soon found herself recruited away from the clarinets by the baritone French horn section. She quickly mastered this new instrument. By the end of her freshman year, she was selected drum major. This was quite an honor and Keyonna was the only female of six drum majors. She said with a laugh, “Everyone was like ‘Where did this girl come from? She’s been in band less than a year. How did she become a drum major?’”

Check out this video of the S.W. Dekalb Marching band; Keyonna is the 2nd from left drum major:

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Making drum major was a turning point for her. “From that moment on I started to develop myself. Taking on that leadership position, I found out a lot about myself.”

The band was quite large, as many as 350 marching Panthers her freshman year. In 2011, Keyonna and the Marching Panthers travelled to Southern California and performed on New Year’s Day in the prestigious Rose Bowl Parade.

After graduating from high school in 2012, Keyonna started college at Alabama A&M University. Unfortunately at the end of her freshman year, finances and financial aid concerns led her to come home to regroup and figure out how to proceed financially with her collegiate plans.

Once back in Atlanta in her free time, Keyonna took photographs and posted them on social media platforms, such as Instagram and Facebook. People had very positive reactions to the photographs on her phone. She said laughing, “I was like . . . really? It’s just a picture.”

After seeing post for a short film company looking for set photographer, Keyonna emailed the producer. After seeing some of her photographs, she was hired.

Her first day on the movie set was a little bit overwhelmed. “It was like ‘wow.’ These people are for real. They had dollies, lighting, make-up chairs. I had to step up to the plate. and do my job well.” Keyonna added with a smile, “So by the end of the day they loved me.”

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As set photographer, she took photographs of action behind the scenes during filming. Two of the short films she worked on, Yield and Almost There, were entries in the recent TPN Film Festival in Atlanta. “Since then I have a lot of people who want to work with me. I’m really excited for what the future has to hold with her photography.”

Starting back to school in January, Keyonna has two classes this semester and is excited to be in the classroom. Working part time at Miles helps her stay focused. “During my down time, I have the opportunity to study – Sydney and John are so understanding.”

Keyonna and her Aunt Gwen posing for a selfie

Keyonna and her Aunt Gwenn posing for a selfie

When asked what surprises her most about her job at Miles she said, “I’m surprised by the things I’m learning. Like the importance of the small things and making sure the details are done right. “ She added, “I didn’t expect everyone to be so nice. The lawyers were kind of intimidating. But everyone has been so friendly and encouraging. It made me appreciate this job more than I was expecting too.”

An only child, her Aunt Gwen has been her guardian since eighth grade. Keyonna expressed her gratitude for such a positive work environment. And with plans to be a future business owner, Keyonna appreciates how John encourages her questions about running a business. Whether her future includes photography, international business or some yet to be discovered passion — Keyonna is focused on the positive. “I know that I am going to keep going forward. I’m very passionate about wanting better things in life.”

We all look forward to see what the future holds for this talented and inspirational young woman.

November 26, 2014 No Comments

We asked some of the folks at Miles Mediation to share some favorite Thanksgiving memories and traditions. No surprise most of the things mentioned included family, laughter and the shining star of the day: food.

Joe Murphey – Team Captain
Twenty-seven years ago, my then-future mother-in-law Marcia and I collaborated on cooking a turkey. We somehow survived the ordeal, and the turkey was spot-on. This year, we will make it 27 perfectly roasted, mouth-watering turkeys in a row.

Many folks travel to be with family on Thanksgiving. Susan and I have been blessed to have be Thanksgiving Day home-base for both of our families — now for nearly three decades. This year my parents, her parents, our kids, some friends and a Swedish exchange student will all pull up a chair to the table to dig in to Turkey #27. For that we are truly thankful.

Keyonna Calloway – Receptionist
My favorite Thanksgiving tradition is every year my family and I put on a talent show. After we’ve eaten, we all gather in the living room area with hot cocoa or adults have their beverage of choice. From the babies to the elders, everyone portrays a different talent. We all laugh and enjoy the show. The best offering I’ve seen so far was a spoken word skit that my younger cousins did about how family is really important.

I’m thankful that there is a time of the year to reflect, although we should daily but due to busy schedules we tend to forget. Those are laughs and memories that will stay with me forever. I will keep the tradition going when I start my own family. Those talents — each and every one of them — reside in my mind and play back. It warms my heart to see everyone not worrying about all the daily problems and enjoying family at that moment. Priceless.

Greg Parent – Team Captain
I love Thanksgiving. Over the years, it’s gone from spending the day with very close friends, to hosting it for my family, to traveling back home to North Carolina to spend it with my folks. I’ve always spent that day with my folks. And we also have turkey, stuffing, rolls, and cookies.

For more than a decade, my family has had nothing but fried turkeys, injected with Creole seasonings. Before that, we had the traditionally-baked turkeys. Frying the turkeys is quicker, if not a little more dangerous.

The friends have changed faces over the years. We’ve added spouses, grand kids, and new traditions, but it’s still a thankful time to be with family, eat good food, and watch football. And nap. Tryptophan can have that affect on a body.

The newest tradition, that I’ve participated in with my wife over the past five years, is standing in line for Black Friday sales. It was a tradition that my wife and her sister had when they were younger. As time passes and they split time with their respective in-laws, they are not always in the same town. So I became the Black Friday shopping partner. Most times I’d rather get a root canal than battle all of humanity for a few discounted items. But then again, the competition of trying to battle for a 600-piece box of Legos can be a little addictive.

David Nutter – Team Captain
My favorite Thanksgiving memory is Thanksgiving 1973 when my family went to New York to see the Thanksgiving Day Parade. The parade itself, of course, was awesome. Watching the mighty parade balloons coming down the street was a dream come true for a kid from South Florida.

After a long exciting day, we wearily went in search of a good Thanksgiving dinner. My mom decided, “Hey I’m in New York, I’m not having Turkey.” By this point of the day her bratty kids (my middle sister and me) were driving her crazy and she was ready to sit down with a cocktail and her non-Turkey Thanksgiving dinner. Well, at the particular eatery we wandered into, the dear table server made it her mission to convince my mom that she just had to have turkey for dinner, because it was Thanksgiving, after all. My mom firmly insisted again that she did not want turkey. The table server, a New York original if there ever was one, insisted equally firmly that the very honor of the Pilgrims was at stake–that she had to have Turkey. “Awe honey, now come on, it’s Thanksgiving, you just gotta have turkey.” My mom, at this point beyond all frustration, pleadingly said, “I don’t want turkey.” A whole new round began. Finally, my mom gave up, retreated to her drink, and with resignation said, “Fine, I’ll have turkey.”

The server, thinking she had done a great good for my mom, triumphantly marched off to the kitchen. My dad, my sister and I sat in stony silence as my mother glowered at all of us, no doubt thinking that the server was somehow secretly in league with us to drive her completely insane. Five minutes later, the server returned with a very glum look and said to my mom, “Honey, I’ve got bad news for yus, we ain’t got no turkey.”

With that my mom and dad burst out laughing, with one of those cathartic laughs that can’t be stopped even if you want to. For minutes they laughed and laughed and laughed until tears rolled from their eyes. In fact, in all of their lives I never knew them to laugh as hard or as long as they did that night. The server seemed relieved and a bit confused that mom and dad were not angry that they could not get turkey on Thanksgiving. And she could not quite understand what exactly was so funny, but she decided to join in on the laugh any way. Laughter seems to work that way. We have all long forgotten what we actually ate that Thanksgiving night 41 years ago, but we have often remembered the humor of that moment. And just as was the case that night, with every retelling we have laughed afresh, and our spirits have been renewed.


Sydney Thaxton – Office Manager

Growing up we’d go to Bainbridge, Georgia, my maternal grandparents’ home for Thanksgiving. Every morning from Wednesday morning until Saturday we had coffee, grits, fresh cured bacon, deer sausage, farm raised eggs and when my grandmother was living, we had her homemade biscuits and mayhaw jelly.

Wednesday night was always “Chili Night” because my aunt would bring a large pot of her famous savory chili and rolls. Thursday was the big garden-grown, home raised feast: Fried turkey, smoked turkey, ham, variety of game (depending on what my uncles caught ie . . . quail, squirrel, deer, alligator, duck, frog legs, etc.), candied yams, dressing and gravy, collard greens, turnip greens both of which were from my uncle’s garden, baked mac-n-cheese, rice, lima beans or succotash, cranberry sauce, green beans, sweet potato pie, pecan pie and when grandmother was living, four-layer chocolate cake. Friday night was fish fry and bon fire. The menfolk would stand around the fire in the cold and fry the fish and homemade potato fries. The women would be in the house making the cold slaw and battering/seasoning the fish and potatoes to be sent outside to fry.

There was always plenty of fresh sugar cane to peel and chew on while having political debates, solving one another’s problems and sharing many, many laughs.

The entire Miles Mediation family is grateful for all our clients and customers. We wish you a wonderful Thanksgiving Day 2014 full of laughter, love and good food.

September 29, 2014 No Comments

By Jamie Miles

Sometimes a spouse says, “I told you so.” And sometimes it’s best she just thinks it.

Wait a second. Let me back up.

Recently, the Daily Report came out with their Best Of awards. My husband’s company, Miles Mediation, took the top honors for mediation firms.

I’m very proud of him and all his hard work. And I took this occasion to remind him that he isn’t the only mediation visionary in our marriage.

“Selected best mediation firm in Georgia, huh? I seem to remember hopping on this mediation train way before you.”

“What?” my mediating husband asked with what could have been interpreted as a roll of the eye. “Is this when you are going to talk about law school?”

I plowed ahead. “Remember I told you about this Alternate Dispute Resolution course being taught by Judge Eldridge – how I signed up for it and you should too. That it was the next big thing in law.”

No. My husband did not take my suggestion or take that law school course. Why waste a semester studying this thing called mediation if he was going to be a litigator?

So the other day — after I got my dig in, I let him buy me a cup of coffee and we chatted about the honor he received doing something he thought wasn’t worth a semester of his time 25 years go.

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John’s thoughts on winning the award:

“It took ten years of hard work to become an overnight success. This recognition means a lot because it’s voted on by your peers. It’s nice to have this acknowledgement from the bar.”

“And you are right. In law school, I wanted to be a trial lawyer. To me, mediation was the opposite of that. It wasn’t why I went to law school. I felt it was something put forth by the academics and judges but it had little worth in the real world.”

Thoughts on the evolution of mediation:

“For years in the Atlanta market, the only option was Henning Mediation. Ed invented the idea of going to a neutral mediation site. Even today in most cities, mediators work part time and go on house calls. Ed conceived the mediation center concept: coffee, sandwich and cookies included.

You started the company in 1999. When did you notice things start to change for Miles Mediation?

“There were many stages and many transitions over the years. Things happened gradually till about the last 18 months. At the end of 2012, beginning of 2013, the company started to grow rapidly.”

I remember we had a raffle at the ­­­­­­­­G.T.L.A. Auto Torts conference in 2007. Part of putting in your entry to win a golf bag was to answer a few questions. As a result of that survey, we learned that only 20 percent of attendees had even heard of Miles Mediation.

It took seven years, but I guess you we have better name recognition now.

We are in the hospitality business. That means providing the whole experience. We upgraded our food, our service and facility. That’s what took us to the next level.

It’s been an exciting 10 years. Look forward to see what the next decade holds.”

September 16, 2014 No Comments

By Jamie Miles

Most Americans remember where they were on September 11, 2001. For Atlanta attorney and Miles Mediation mediator Scott Delius, that day not only impacted his memories, it dramatically changed the course of his life.

Born and raised in Memphis, Tennessee, Scott graduated from the University of Tennessee and University of Memphis Law School. After finishing law school in 1997, he moved to Atlanta to work as an associate with two insurance defense firms. Scott decided to start his own practice in 2001. A couple of months later 9/11 happened.

Before 9/11 had you ever entertained thoughts of military life?

“It was something I always had in the back of my mind. But there was always something else to do. My dad’s retired military so that was always there – but 9/11 was the kick in the pants.”

“At the time I was 31 and didn’t get commissioned till I was 35. That’s kind of pushing it age wise.”

There’s no doubt of Delius’ determination when he has a goal in mind. Even the U.S. Military with all its procedural roadblocks was no match.
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First hurdle to clear was a trip to the Military Entrance Processing Station (MEPS).

“I think I went three times and got turned away.” Having had knee and foot surgery when he was younger, Delius couldn’t even make it to the point of having a doctor examine him.

Joining the Military, Plan B.

“My recruiter said, ‘You’re a lawyer. Let’s try to get you in the Army National Guard JAG Corps.’”

On the advice of his recruiter, Delius turned to the National Guard. Admission to the Guard requires meeting the same standards as the active duty U.S. Army. Scott explained that the U.S. Army Reserve and Army National Guard fall under what he refers to as “Big Army.” Indeed, all Army soldiers, whether Active, Reserve or National Guard, belong to the U.S. Army.

“When someone goes into the National Guard a state surgeon actually lays eyes on you rather than a PA or nurse stopping you at the door. The doctor immediately saw that there was nothing bothering me. I’ve always been an athlete. So he said, ‘Sure. Come on in.’”

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So you would think things really picked up in Delius’ quest to serve in the Middle East. But it was still almost two years before his persistence paid off.

“When I was at my officer basic course, I met a guy from Oregon who was going to Afghanistan the following year. That was the whole reason I joined. I wanted to go to Afghanistan because that’s where the 9/11 attacks originated. I wanted to try to make a difference. So about a year later, when the Oregon unit was getting ready to go, he called me and said, “We’ve got a spot if you want it.’”

Hurdle number two. “Georgia was fine with me going and Oregon wanted me but “Big Army” was slow to approve the transfer.”

It took six months to get the U. S. Army to agree to let him go with Oregon. The Oregon unit was about halfway through their yearlong mission when Delius finally shipped over to Afghanistan.

What were you doing?

“The reason I wanted this particular mission was because 90 percent of the time a JAG goes to Iraq or Afghanistan, we sit behind a desk. This mission was unique in that it was an Embedded Team Trainer (ETT).

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“My job every day was to go out every morning with an Afghan colonel and help him and the Afghan National Army establish the Rule of Law in Afghanistan and a court on the base. We went ‘outside the wire’ every day.”

Scott lived and worked in Kabul on an American base called The Alamo. The Alamo was inside a much larger Afghan army base with about 8,000 Afghan soldiers training at one time, which Scott said could be considered the Afghan equivalent to West Point.

Most of the Afghan military leadership trained under the Soviets in the 1980s. They had a much different view of how things work. Delius said, “We were trying to get them to understand that if somebody messes up, you don’t beat them up. There are other ways of administering justice.”

A large part of his job was helping to set up an actual court, from getting approval for a space, to furniture and to finding prosecutors and judges and training them.

“People come to me and ask why have we been in Afghanistan for so long.”

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“People throw around the phrase nation building. We are facilitating the development of a modern society. It’s a massive undertaking. That means everything in a country with no running water or electricity. The military has become good at it. To get modern standards – or even close – would take probably 50 years. Ten years or more is really nothing when you are trying to transform a society.”

Scott is extremely thankful for the support of his wife.

“We got married in 2002. Allyson knew about my commitment to join the military and she was supportive. When the opportunity for deployment came up she knew I wanted to do it and she was a 100 percent behind me. That makes all the difference.”

While in Afghanistan, Scott, with the help of his wife, organized humanitarian missions. Back in Atlanta, Allyson organized a clothing drive with the help of the Atlanta legal community. “She and the Atlanta legal community sent me tons of clothes and we distributed them.”

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How has this experience impacted your life and work, including your mediation practice?

“The military gives me a set of experiences that is different than the other mediators. It doesn’t make me better but just a perspective that is a lot different.”

“Having been deployed downrange in Afghanistan, I have an appreciation for what is important and what is not. When you live every day wondering if you are going to be blown apart by a roadside bomb, or shot by the people you’re trying to help – that changes you fundamentally. I have little patience for the mundane or minutiae.”

“I find that I can cut through things a little more quickly as a result of my experiences. Because of my history with plaintiffs as clients, I find it very easy to talk with them at mediation. And certainly having done insurance work for many years, I can talk with adjustors too.”

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Looking at the current state of our armed forces in Iraq and Afghanistan, Delius observed.

“I hope all our work sticks. The work and the sacrifice. And I hope that things progress and don’t go backwards. Sounds like we are still going to have a presence in Afghanistan which is what we need.

He explained the Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA). SOFA is an agreement between nations that when one of our soldiers does something wrong, they are not subject to the other countries’ criminal justice system. “Iraq refused to give us that so the U.S. said, ‘That’s a deal breaker and we are going home.’”

“As of now, Afghanistan is willing to give us that (SOFA), so that’s why we will probably have a presence there.”

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On the eve of another September 11th anniversary, all Americans need pause and remember the past and ongoing sacrifice of our military and private citizens who are taking a stand in that volatile part of the world.

Thanks Scott!

For more information on Scott’s Afghanistan experience, please visit http://www.deliuslaw.com/firm-news/.

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