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

November 30, 2017 No Comments

by Scott D. Delius, Esq.

Who exactly is the opposition in mediation? Should you reveal your trial strategies to the mediator? What about disclosing your settlement authority? Some concepts may seem obvious, others may not, but it is surprising how often mediating parties employ tactics that are unhelpful to their cause.

Who is the opposition in mediation?

One of the main problems in mediations is attorneys that treat the mediator as the opposition instead of an ally. During a caucus, where the mediator meets privately with one side, some lawyers (and their clients) treat the mediator as the opposition. They see the mediator as a manifestation of the other side. Too often they focus on the unreasonableness of the demand or the offer.

Mediating parties should use the mediator as a conduit of information. A good mediator will give as much information to the other side as is ethically possible. Becoming angry with a mediator because the opposing side’s number is too high or too low will not advance your client’s cause.

Always ask the mediator for his or her opinion. A good mediator should give it to you anyway, but if you haven’t heard it yet, ask the mediator’s opinion whether the other side is being unreasonable. Perhaps more importantly, does the mediator think that you are being unreasonable? This is where the mediator can be most helpful by employing strategies to bridge the gap between the demand and the settlement offer.

Another unhelpful tactic is “hiding the ball” from the mediator. While it is understandable and often necessary to exclude the mediator from attorney-client discussions, it is unwise to purposefully keep important information hidden from the mediator. This is information or evidence that may potentially tip the scales in favor of one side or another, or even win the case outright. If the mediator knows about this evidence, he or she can help determine whether and how it can best be used in the mediation to help get the case settled favorably. The opposite principle is also true. Parties should confidentially disclose information to the mediator that is damaging to their own case.

Don’t underestimate the benefit of the mediator’s neutral insight. Remember, you’ve been “living” with your case for a long time, sometimes years. You may have become too close to the case, to the point that you can’t see an important issue. You may be surprised at what you’ve overlooked.

A good example is the issue of insurance. In a personal injury mediation, that’s the entire focus of the negotiations; how much insurance money will be paid to settle the case? As attorneys, we know that the issue of insurance is never allowed in court. It is such a given that the lawyers never give the issue a second thought. But have you thought about what the plaintiff thinks?

Right or wrong, the opposing insurance company is usually the focus of the plaintiff’s attention. The plaintiff probably has thought of nothing else leading up to the mediation.

Most plaintiffs with no courtroom experience just assume that they’re going to be able to talk about the supposed injustice that they have faced due to the alleged actions or inactions of the insurance company. They assume that they’re going to be able to talk about their interactions with the insurance adjusters. They assume that the jury will know the amount of insurance coverage. They assume that the jury will hear about the perceived unfairness of the settlement negotiations leading up to trial.

Of course, the lawyers know that’s never going to happen. That’s why I make a point to tell the plaintiff this important information early during negotiations, that even the word “insurance” can never be mentioned in court. Nine times out of 10, the plaintiff has never been told this information. This revelation instantly changes the landscape for the plaintiff. I have seen this interaction lead to the settlement of many a case.

I’m not suggesting that by telling the plaintiff about the insurance issue that I’m targeting the plaintiff in order to gain an advantage for the defense. I’m simply pointing out one example of how the mediator can engage with one party in a surprisingly simple way in order to move the negotiations forward.

What about your settlement authority?

I’m about to suggest what some may believe to be an unthinkable strategy. Mediating parties should give serious consideration to revealing their settlement numbers to the mediator. That means that the defense should tell the mediator the amount of their authority, and the plaintiff should tell the mediator what they will accept to get the case settled.

Some lawyers have no idea what the number is—either they haven’t discussed it with their client or their client won’t tell them. This happens equally with plaintiffs and defendants and can make for some strange caucus sessions. Other lawyers simply can’t bring themselves to reveal this information to the mediator. After all, your settlement number is your biggest secret, isn’t it?

If both sides reveal their “bottom lines” to the mediator, one of two things will happen. The first possible outcome should be obvious. If the numbers are light years apart, and if there is little chance of bridging that chasm, the mediation will probably end early and the parties will not waste time and money.

I have personally found that there is usually a different outcome. Interestingly, when both parties are honest about their bottom lines, the numbers often overlap each other or are fairly close. Of course, a mediator is not going to reveal any numbers to the opposing parties, but I will tell both of them that their case has a good likelihood of success and it’s worthwhile to keep negotiating.

Even if only one side reveals its settlement number to the mediator, it can be tremendously helpful in getting the case settled. The mediator’s task is to hit the target, and that task is made immeasurably easier if the mediator knows where the target is.

Revealing one’s trial strategy and settlement authority to a mediator may take a tremendous leap of faith for some. If you haven’t tried it before, trust your mediator with your most closely guarded information. You may find that you will be pleasantly surprised at the results.


Mediator Scott Delius, Esq.

Scott Delius, Esq. is a mediator with Miles in Atlanta. He specializes in automobile, brain injury, business, civil rights, contracts, federal law, insurance, military personal injury, premises liability, product liability, workers compensation, and wrongful death cases. To schedule a mediation with Scott, please call 678-320-9118 or click here.

November 17, 2017 No Comments
Mediator Arbitrator Joe Murphey, Esq.

Team Leader Joseph Murphey, Esq, a mediator and arbitrator at Miles, recently shared insights about negotiation and settlement tactics at an Auto Injury Litigation seminar.  The seminar was held in Atlanta and presented by the National Business Institute, Inc. Murphey’s presentations were each available for 1.0 hour of CLE credit.

Murphey’s first presentation centered on “Negotiating with Auto Insurance Adjusters,” including techniques for going beyond an adjuster’s settlement authority and how to restart stalled negotiations. His second presentation focused on bad faith, specifically adjuster case evaluation strategies; top bad faith insurance company tactics and how to prove them; and incident scene investigation tactics and biased IMEs.

For more information about the seminar, click here.

 

 

 

November 14, 2017 No Comments

Team Leader David Nutter, Esq. will share valuable insights on mediating business and contract disputes at the annual Contract Litigation Seminar on November 17. The seminar will be held at the State Bar of Georgia headquarters and is chaired by John Larkins, Jr. and John Dalbey, both of Chilivis Cochran Larkins & Bever.  The seminar is eligible for 6 CLE hours, including 1.5 Professionalism hours and 4.5 Trial Practice hours.

See below for the seminar schedule, and for more information, click here.

WELCOME AND PROGRAM OVERVIEW
John K. Larkins, Jr.

CASE LAW DEVELOPMENTS ON CONTRACT
ESSENTIALS
Richard B. Caplan, LeClairRyan, Atlanta

LITIGATING A CONTRACTS CASE: THE VIEW
FROM THE BENCH
Hon John K. Larkins, III, United States Magistrate
Judge, Northern District of Georgia, Atlanta

THE CONTRACT DRAFTER’S GUIDE TO
CONTRACT DRAFTING
George M. Fox, Fox+Mattson, P.C., Atlanta

CYBER RISK MANAGEMENT THROUGH
VENDOR CONTRACTS
Mitzi L. Hill, Taylor English Duma LLP, Atlanta

DAMAGES AND THE USE OF EXPERTS IN A
CONTRACTS CASE
Lauren A. Warner, Chilivis Cochran Larkins & Bever
LLP, Atlanta

INTEGRATED CONTRACTS, MERGER CLAUSES
AND IMPLIED TERMS
Michael J. King, Greenberg Traurig LLP, Atlanta

HOW TO WIN YOUR CONTRACT CASE THROUGH
CROSS-EXAMINATION
Stephen T. LaBriola, Fellows LaBriola LLP, Atlanta

MEDIATING BUSINESS AND CONTRACT
DISPUTES: PROCESS, PERSPECTIVE AND
PATIENCE
David C. Nutter, Miles Mediation & Arbitration
Services LLC, Atlanta

 

 

 

November 8, 2017 No Comments
Mediator Bianca Motley Broom

Miles mediator Bianca Motley Broom was recently featured in a thoughtful Daily Report article by reporter Meredith Hobbs.
In the article, Bianca discusses her growing mediation practice and part-time role as a magistrate court judge in Fulton County.  When discussing the importance of the mediator’s role, she said:

“Typically in a trial, someone walks away unhappy. That’s where a good mediator comes in. It doesn’t take much skill to run numbers back and forth from room to room. It’s important to understand what motivates people. It’s not always money. Sometimes people are feeling ignored, disrespected or marginalized. A good mediator is going to pick up on that.”

To view the full article on the Daily Report’s website, click here.

October 25, 2017 1 Comment

We are excited to announce that Hon. Susan Forsling was named an “ADR Champion” by the National Law Journal. She is featured in the publication’s 2nd annual ADR Champions special edition, which recognizes individuals for their pioneering spirit, success, and commitment to advancing the practice of alternative dispute resolution.  Susan is the only neutral in Georgia to receive this prestigious distinction this year.

As a team leader at Miles, Susan works tirelessly to produce results for her mediation and arbitration clients. She specializes in cases involving personal injury, premises liability, medical negligence, wrongful death, professional liability, commercial contracts, local government, civil rights, and bad faith insurance claims.

“Susan is well-deserving of this award, and we’re very proud of her,” said Miles founder John Miles.  “She has become the go-to neutral at Miles for attorneys with high value and complex cases and brings the same energy and work ethic to her role as a neutral as she did when she served as a judge. Congratulations to Susan and all of the others named to this elite list.”

The National Law Journal provides in-depth national coverage for private practitioners, judges, corporate lawyers, government attorneys, and the entire legal community.

See below to view the full ADR Champions special edition, or click here.

October 24, 2017 No Comments
Mediator Jennifer Grippa, Esq.

Miles mediator & arbitrator Jennifer Grippa recently presented a CLE on “Effective Mediation Strategies” at the Atlanta-based law firm, Winter Capriola Zenner, which specializes in Commercial and Civil Litigation, Community Association Law, Corporate and Business Transactions, Real Estate and Resort and Land Development.

As Jennifer highlighted in her presentation, mediating construction cases involves far more than passing numbers.  When multiple stakeholders are involved, the interpretation of contracts, insurance policies, indemnity agreements, and third-party claims, negotiating a resolution can have its challenges, but there are strategies that parties and counsel can implement to ensure the mediation is meaningful and has the best possible chance of success.

To review the strategies Jennifer outlined in her presentation, click here. 

 


Jennifer Grippa, Esq. is a mediator and arbitrator with Miles in Atlanta.  She has over 16 years of litigation experience, specializing in construction law. To schedule a mediation or arbitration with Jennifer, please call 678-320-9118 or visit her online calendar.

October 19, 2017 No Comments
Mediation Settlement agreement

by Roy Paul, Esq.

While mediation normally is viewed as a means of avoiding or putting an efficient end to litigation, we are reminded that mediation can simply lead to additional litigation if the parties are not careful to create a clear binding agreement at mediation. The recent case of American Acad. of Gen. Physicians, Inc. et. al. v. LaPlante, 340 Ga.App. 527, 798 S.E.2d 64 (2017) shows what can happen even when the mediated agreement is read into the record in the presence of the trial judge, the parties and their counsel. Despite these measures, an appeal was taken in which the appellants argued that the trial court erred in enforcing the mediated agreement because the appellants’ agents allegedly exceeded their authority in entering into the agreement, an essential term of the agreement was void as against public policy and there was no meeting of the minds between the parties. The Court of Appeals affirmed the trial court’s enforcement of the mediated agreement finding that there existed a sufficient meeting of the minds to validate and enforce the agreement, but not without lengthy discussion and reference to the transcript of discussions that occurred between the trial court and counsel for the parties clarifying certain of the terms of the settlement.

The Court in LaPlante noted that in Georgia, settlement agreements are highly favored under the law and will be upheld whenever possible. The Court recognized, however, that:

An agreement between two parties will occur only when the minds of the parties meet at the same time, upon the same subject-matter, and in the same sense.” Cox Broad. Corp. v. Nat’l Collegiate Athletic Ass ’n, 250 Ga. 391, 395, 297 S.E.2d 733 (1982) (citations omitted). “In determining if parties had the mutual assent or meeting of the minds necessary to reach agreement, courts apply an objective theory of intent whereby one party’s intention is deemed to be that meaning a reasonable man in the position of the other contracting party would ascribe to the first party’s manifestation of assent.” Id. “When parties to a contract … know that they have different intents with respect to certain language before they enter into the contract, there can be no meeting of the minds upon the same subject matter and in the same sense and no agreement on that issue.” Id. 340 Ga.App. at 532; 798 S.E.2d at 69-70.

Parties to a mediated agreement should be mindful that a settlement agreement is no different than any other contract and should be very careful to make sure that there is a meeting of the minds on all of the essential terms. A mediated settlement agreement must meet the same requirements of formation and enforceability as any contract. If essential terms are left for additional negotiation or are not clearly stated, the opportunity to attack the enforceability of the agreement is created. While the law favors compromise, it is up to the parties to enter into a definite, certain and unambiguous agreement.

If the parties are careful to enter into an enforceable agreement, the Court of Appeals has also recently emphasized that trial courts are generally required to accept the agreement. In Olmstead Homeowners Association, Inc. v. Washington, 341 Ga.App. 524, 801 S.E.2d 320 (2017) the Court of Appeals was presented with a situation where the trial court’s final order and judgment allegedly differed from the terms of a mediated agreement. The case was remanded because it was not clear whether the trial court impermissibly modified the terms of the mediated agreement instead of enforcing it as written. On remand, the Court of Appeals left it to the trial court to determine whether the parties’ agreement was sufficiently definite, certain and unambiguous as to all material terms to be enforceable as to the parties’ final settlement.

On the arbitration side, the recent ruling in Bibb County School District v. Dallemand, 2017 WL 4126996 (9/18/2017) discussed again how the threshold issue of arbitrability is to be addressed. The Court recognized that the parties may show their clear and unmistakable intent to submit to an arbitrator the threshold issue of arbitrability by including a delegation clause in their arbitration agreement. See Rent-A-Center, West, Inc. v. Jackson, 561 U.S.63, 68-69 (2010). The Court in Dallemand emphasized that the intent must be “clear and unmistakable.” The Georgia appellate Courts have made it clear under the Georgia Arbitration Code the even claims that the underlying contract containing the arbitration clause was subject to rescission can be submitted to an arbitration with a broad arbitration clause. 


Mediator Roy PaulRoy Paul, Esq. is a mediator and arbitrator with Miles in Savannah. He has 30+ years of  combined litigation, mediation and arbitration experience. He specializes in business dissolution and business disputes, as well as estate & probate, construction, and personal injury cases. To book Roy for a mediation or arbitration, please call 912-417-2879 or click here. 

October 17, 2017 No Comments

by Burke Johnson, Esq.

When I was growing up in rural Madison County, going to Atlanta was a big deal. We would plan long in advance, and I even remember that my father would typically take the car in for an oil change and service before we headed out on that adventure.

After I finished law school, I lived and worked in Atlanta for several years. In 2001, I moved back home to Madison County. I continued working in Atlanta, and the commute became somewhat routine but increasingly difficult. As metro Atlanta expanded outward, well into Gwinnett County and even into Oconee, Jackson, Barrow and other counties near Athens, the drive became worse and worse.   A typical trip now routinely takes two hours each way during the morning and evening commute.

I have learned to “grin and bear” the commute. For most residents of northeast Georgia, however, the prospect of driving into Atlanta is often quite daunting. I’m proud Miles can now offer our clients an alternative: mediation services in Athens and all surrounding areas for clients who prefer to remain in the northeastern part of Georgia. We have a wonderful facility to accommodate multi-party cases and will soon open an additional space in Athens.

For more information or to schedule a mediation in the Athens area, please call our office at 678-320-9118.


Mediator Burke JohnsonBurke Johnson, Esq. is a mediator with Miles Mediation in Atlanta.  He has over 30 years of experience handling cases of all complexities and sizes, including  automobile; motorcycle and trucking wrecks; premises liability actions (including cases involving claims of negligent security); product liability claims; construction defect claims; commercial general liability claims; professional liability claims; insurance coverage matters; life, health and disability insurance claims; ERISA benefit claims; business and commercial disputes; elder care and adult guardianships; probate and estate litigation; and family law matters.  

To learn more about Burke or to schedule a mediation, please call 678-320-9118 or visit his online calendar.

 

September 27, 2017 No Comments

by Matthew Thiry, Esq.

Growing up playing baseball, I constantly heard coaches repeating to batters “keep your eye on the ball.”  This advice applies equally to business, and has the same consequences if not followed.  Inevitably, business clients are distracted by litigation matters, taking their eye off the ball, and, as a result, the costs can be immeasurable.   When business leaders are focused on litigation instead of generating revenue, businesses suffer.

Even in situations where good legal advice and good business practices are followed, business litigation can become an unavoidable distraction.  Business litigators frequently witness clients losing focus because of a dispute.  This could result in hard-fought battles with little to show in return, and can take a previously-successful company and plunge it into a downward spiral.  Once in this spiral, a client can quickly focus its frustration on counsel, frequently unjustly, and question its own previously approved litigation strategies.  Mediation provides an opportunity to mitigate the distraction, and a means through which the parties can resolve disputes and refocus on getting their business back to business.

Recognizing the distraction does not mean counseling businesses to run from or cave in the face of a dispute.  Instead, it means these disputes need to be managed like other business matters.  Business owners and executives like to be in control, and mediation provides them a non-binding opportunity to explore resolution while exercising that control.  Business clients often look beyond mediation, underestimate its value, and, instead, focus on other litigation strategies, such as summary judgment, which are time consuming, expensive, and often results in an appeal.

Client pressures regarding unpredictable time and costs consumed by litigation continue to rise.  In addition, all litigants are exposed to risks.  Even when the facts and law appear to support one party, there is a significant risk that a judge or jury may disagree.  In mediation, business litigators can take advantage of their own experiences and negotiation skills to help reach a resolution.  Moreover, business clients are often very sophisticated negotiators.  Why not take advantage of your combined experiences and skills, and craft a resolution that is predictable, controlled, and beneficial, as opposed to the unpredictable results waiting at trial?  There is certainly a time to carry the sword, and you may be forced to carry it.  However, a mediated resolution provides business litigators the opportunity to avail themselves to their clients as a part of the team, an advisor, and not just the muscle that is brought in to “swing for the fences.”

If mediation is viewed as an opportunity, it can resolve the dispute at hand, and can save businesses the opportunity costs that would otherwise be lost because of “taking their eye off the ball.”  If mediation is approached with the goal of managing litigation as a business matter, clients will often find that an acceptable result can be reached.  In the end, business clients want to and need to make money, and mediation provides litigators an opportunity to get clients back to that while minimizing costs and risks.


Matt Thiry, Esq. is a mediator and arbitrator with Miles in Atlanta.  He specializes business, fiduciary, real estate and probate.  To schedule a mediation or arbitration with Matt, please call 678-320-9118 or visit his online calendar.

September 26, 2017 No Comments

by Wayne Wilson, Esq.

Mediation provides the best format for all parties to present their respective positions regarding the issues
being litigated in a case – whether that be liability, damages, causation, or any other element for consideration.  Everyone sitting at the table has the opportunity to discuss, argue, inform, and communicate their thoughts and opinions, without contradiction or objection from the other side.  All facts and issues are ripe for consideration, with or without those pesky legal impediments such as relevancy or admissibility.  That is one of the beauties of the mediation process, i.e., each party having the right and ability to “have their say and tell their story.”

You will notice that what I just stated as the “great positive” of mediation – the parties right and opportunity to speak – fails to include probably the most important part of the mediation process: Listening to what is being said.  It does no good for you to present great arguments if you are not being heard.  And it does no good for the opposing party to present great arguments if you are not listening. If we fail to listen to what the other side has to say and refuse to include their comments, thoughts, opinions, suggestions, and concerns into the final evaluation of the case, we’re not likely to be able to reach a result which is a “win/win” settlement.

The Role of Active Listening

Listening is often the hardest thing to do if you want to do it right. It must be “active” rather than “passive” in nature so that the information being provided assists your decision-making in properly evaluating the case. If you don’t listen intently and with purpose to what the other side is saying, you will not be able to use the information for your benefit. Mediation provides the opportunity to hear the good, the bad, and the ugly.  And that is exactly what you need to obtain a settlement which is to your benefit. I always start a mediation by meeting with the parties separately, in a setting free of distractions, so the focus is entirely on the speaker. It is important to understand the implications of what is being said, not just the content.  And it is important for the speaker to understand, and have confidence, that I am truly listening to what he wants to say.  The main focus is on the participant’s agenda, what the person needs for others to hear.

The next step in the mediation is crucial.  This in the opening caucus, when everyone is in the same room sitting across the table from each other and, may for the first time. This is an opportunity for the parties to have a face-to-face conversation and deal with their issues and concerns. It is imperative (and not to be lost in the equation, “respectful”) to actively listen to what the other side has to say.  And this is a two-way street.

With that being said, if listening is important,  not listening and showing total disinterest is deadly to the
mediation process. An example of this (and unfortunately a true story) is a mediation in which the plaintiff was a no-nonsense, mid-50’s gentleman who was ex-military and had earned and deserved respect and had a “right to be heard.” I told him that this was the opportunity for him to have a frank and honest conversation with the representatives from the insurance company. And that he should simply look them in the eye and speak to them “man-to-man.” He did this exactly, and the insurance representative sat across the table, never made eye contact, sat disengaged, flipped his pen in the air, never acknowledged any statement or comment made, and did not even tell the plaintiff that he appreciated, understood, or even wanted to make efforts to get the case settled. It was a catastrophe. And I nearly lost all credibility as a mediator because it was my suggestion to lay it on the line.

The primary problem when “groups” begin to be dysfunctional, i.e., when the mediation process begins to suffer and fail, is that people simply don’t feel heard or respected, as in the example above.  It is likely that by the time a mediation takes place, a great deal of communication has transpired between attorneys, plaintiffs, family members, claims personnel, the court, etc., but to no avail.  Others have very likely become impatient with the repetition that not listening engenders.  They dismiss whatever is said as repeating the “same old song” or “telling the same story” and may be in the room, but not in the conversation. But at mediation, for the first time in the litigation process, the actual people who are involved and affected by the decisions being made are providing the information. Their positions are not being filtered. Suddenly, the things they have been saying for a long time have more credibility than they had before. And what they have to say has import as to the value of the case. So all either side has to do to get a better understanding of the true value of the case is listen.

Mediation Settlement

Listening to Settle

I recently mediated a case in which the plaintiff (a well-educated, older gentleman, with an excellent work history as an administrator in the county school system) was being completely honest about the injuries he sustained in an accident. He attributed most of his problems to the accident, and it was a case of clear liability. He also had an injury which prevented him from doing something he loved: refurbishing old cars. That may mean very little or nothing to some people, but it meant the world to him.  During the opening remarks by the plaintiff, the defense counsel acknowledged liability and did not try to posture by
discussing “legal” issues which were available, which would have meant little to the plaintiff. The defense counsel listened to what the plaintiff regarding the impact of his loss. More importantly, the defense counsel re-visited that issue late in the mediation–not at the plaintiff’s request, but on his own.  This act listening to what the plaintiff said hours earlier was the bridge to success.  All of the issues, facts, concerns, positions properly raised by the defense and relayed to the plaintiff throughout the mediation were recognized and understood as legitimate factors in determining the value and not just a way to lower the settlement value of the case. It was defense counsel’s listening and proper response to the plaintiff’s issues that got the case settled for a fair settlement value.

Good listening requires:

  • All decision makers in the room
  • No distractions (cell phones, etc.)
  • Full attention
  • Patience
  • A genuine effort to understand

This is a lot to do for a short period and even under the best of circumstances. But it gets results. Mediation is the best moment to get a matter resolved in a timely, cost-efficient, and reasonable fashion. The parties have absolute control. Certainty is assured. All we have to do is listen.


Mediator Wayne WilsonTeam Leader Wayne Wilson, Esq is a mediator and arbitrator with Miles in Atlanta.  He has mediated more than 1,000 cases during his tenure with Miles. He specializes primarily in Premises Liability cases; Commercial Liability claims, Automobile/Trucking, Property Damage, and Subrogation Claims.  To schedule a mediation or arbitration with Wayne, please call 678-320-9118 or visit his online calendar.

September 21, 2017 No Comments
Mediator Bianca Motley Broom

We are thrilled to announce the addition of Bianca Motley Broom, Esq. to our panel. She will mediate personal injury cases in our Atlanta office, as a member of Team Nutter.

In addition to her full-time mediation practice, Bianca will continue to serve as a part-time judge in the Magistrate Court of Fulton County. Before her appointment, she was a Senior Trial Attorney at Allstate Insurance Company for nearly five years, defending the company’s insured in personal injury cases. Prior to joining Allstate, she was an associate at Hawkins Parnell Thackston & Young, practicing toxic tort litigation. She has also served as an Assistant Prosecuting Attorney in Cuyahoga County, Ohio.

“Bianca unites tremendous professional competence with legal and judicial experience, and she has an incredible ability to bring people together under any circumstances,” said Founder John Miles. “We are delighted to have her on our panel of distinguished neutrals.”

“I am thrilled to join such an outstanding panel of mediators at Miles,” said Bianca. “Through my own litigation practice, I have had the opportunity to mediate with many wonderful neutrals across Georgia. The professionalism and skill of the mediators at Miles, however, stands out. I look forward to being able to collaborate with the best mediators in the business and working to resolve cases as quickly and efficiently as possible.”

Bianca is a registered civil mediator in Georgia. She received her Juris Doctorate from Washington University School of Law and a Bachelor of Arts in Public Policy Studies and Religion from Duke University. She is also studying for her Master of Business Administration degree from Lake Forest Graduate School of Management (LFGSM) and holds certificates in Change Management and Management Analytics from LFGSM.

Community service is a cornerstone of Bianca’s life. She currently volunteers with Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta and The Main Street Academy, where she is the immediate past president of the board. She recently participated in the United Way’s South Fulton Community Building Institute and is a member of the Atlanta Bar Association, Gate City Bar Association, National Bar Association, South Fulton Bar Association, Georgia Association for Women Lawyers,  and the Georgia Association of Black Women Attorneys.


Bianca Motley Broom, Esq. is a mediator with Miles in Atlanta. She specializes in personal injury cases. To schedule a mediation with Bianca or for more information, please call 678-320-9118 or visit her online calendar.

September 19, 2017 No Comments

Mediator Jennifer Grippa, Esq. recently authored an article, “Technology Is Changing the World of Dispute Resolution, for the Daily Report’s annual edition on Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR).

In the article, Jennifer explores the impact technology advancements has had on the ADR industry, and the importance of having a technologically savvy mediator.

Click here to read the entire article, or below:

September 18, 2017 No Comments

Mediator Gino Brogdon, Jr., Esq. recently published the article “Five Things to Help Your Mediation Succeed,” in Daily Report’s annual edition on Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR).

Click here to read the full article, or below:

September 15, 2017 No Comments
Mediator Gino Brogdon, Jr. and NBA Rookie of the Year Malcolm Brogdon

Mediator Gino Brogdon, Jr. recently joined with his brother NBA Rookie of the Year, Malcolm Brogdon, and his mother, Professor Jann Adams, as featured speakers at Morehouse College’s student enrichment event, Crown Forum After Dark.   The trio spoke to Morehouse students and members of the Atlanta community about the importance of goal setting, creating a legacy, the value of sacrifice, and the impact of mentorship.

Gino is a graduate of Morehouse, where his mother serves as a Professor of Psychology and Associate Provost. Malcolm Brogdon is a point guard for the Milwaukee Bucks.


Gino Brogdon, Jr., Esq. is a mediator with Miles in Atlanta. He specializes in areas of automobile and trucking, personal injury, wrongful death, civil rights, business, contracts, insurance coverage disputes, and complex medical malpractice. To schedule a mediation with Gino or for more information, please call 678-320-9118 or visit his online calendar.

 

September 8, 2017 No Comments
Mediator Jennifer Grippa, Esq.

As a featured speaker at the 36th annual Insurance Law Institute, Mediator & Arbitrator Jennifer Grippa shared four critical elements of professionalism for attorneys who want to achieve effective mediation outcomes.

Georgia Supreme Court Supreme
Court Code of Professional Responsibility:

(b) To model for others, and particularly for my clients, the respect due to those we call upon to resolve our disputes and the regard due to all participants in our dispute resolution process.

1. Perspective

Good Faith

  • Put aside stereotypes and prejudgments
  • Own your risk
  • Make a true effort to build trust with the other side
  • Talk less and listen more
  • Admit you can’t predict the outcome
  • Remember your audience
  • Do what you say you’re going to do
  • Share damages documentation in advance
  • Avoid retreating from pre-mediation offers
  • Communicate non-starters in advance

 2. Preparation

  • Prepare as you would for a hearing
  • Know the facts
  • Bring all documents
  • Be prepared to discuss legal issues
  • Bring your “smoking gun”
  • Set reasonable expectations

3. Patience/Perseverance

  • Refrain from acts of impatience
  • Act as you would in court
  • Set client expectations
  • Explain that incremental progress is the norm
  • It is not how the mediation starts, but how it is finished that matters

4. Partnership

  • Partner with your mediator
  • Be honest about client control issues
  • Communicate specific expectations — let the mediator communicate those at the right time and in the best way
  • Give your mediator due regard

 


Jennifer Grippa, Esq. is a mediator and arbitrator with Miles in Atlanta.  She has over 16 years of litigation experience, specializing in construction law. To schedule a mediation or arbitration with Jennifer, please call 678-320-9118 or visit her online calendar.

August 4, 2017 No Comments

By David C. Nutter

“Why not Mr. Churchill?” An unthinkable question as late as 1935. Winston Churchill was a political pariah scorned by Liberal, Labor, and Conservative alike, the scapegoat of Gallipoli, a warmonger imperialist, out of step with the prevailing pacifist politicians, professoriate, and public. His repeated warnings about the Nazis menace and the threat to England herself were laughed to scorn.

But beginning with a Daily Mail article in May 1936, after German troops occupied the Rhineland, the question began to be asked, “Why not Mr. Churchill?” By the summer of 1939, as Churchill’s warnings came to full flower, the question “Why not Mr. Churchill?” became an avalanche of newspaper pleas, cartoons, and billboards crying out for Winston Churchill. Three hundred seventy-five professors and faculty members of every British university signed a letter calling for Churchill’s return to the government. It was evident that the very existence of England herself was in grave danger. If you watch the movie Dunkirk, you will see that it was only Providence and the pluck of the 700 “Little Ships of Dunkirk” that somehow held back Hitler from destroying the British and French armies. Churchill had been right for a decade. The British politicians and public were not ready to hear it until the threat was all too real and imminent.

There is an unfortunate truth about human nature in this sad saga that explains the two most common complaints heard about unsuccessful mediators. The problem with such mediators, we are told, is that:  (1) they just run numbers back and forth with no evaluative comments or (2) the mediator offended attorney or client or both with their comments. Of course, these criticisms are polar opposites. Somewhere in the middle is the happy medium of the insightful comment well-received.

While no doubt some mediators have a better bedside manner than others, I think the real question is timing. Successful mediators do need to deliver hard truths in a palatable form. But the real question is when. Until the audience is ready to hear the hard truth, however well presented, there is little value in sharing it, and indeed, it is sometimes harmful. If something is said too soon before a threat is seen or a risk is felt, it will have little force or effect. Like Churchill’s warnings in the early 1930’s, they will be ignored or scorned. Only when there is something tangible to be lost, will the message have real meaning. The difference between Churchill and a mediator is that Churchill had 10 years to allow events to catch up with his comments. Most mediators don’t have that much time.

So, all successful mediators do some numbers running. You have to in order to get the parties into a range of perceived risk. Better just to admit it when asked. “Why don’t you tell them about X, Y and Z,” an attorney might ask. “Well, I did say something about X, but why do you want me to say anything about Y and Z while we are 2 million dollars apart? They won’t listen right now and the moment will be lost. Why not move the numbers a bit and wait for a better moment?” This is doubly true in most cases because, unlike WWII, most lawsuits are not really a Manichean battle between light and darkness. There are usually some points on both sides. But when the time is right, and the trial looms, and the stakes are clear, and there is money to be lost, and both sides are feeling some risk, then a friendly but piercing question carries a power far greater than the words themselves.

In 1933, “Why not Mr. Churchill?” would have been a joke. In May 1940 when, as the BBC reported it, “His Majesty the King has sent for Mr. Winston Churchill and asked him to form a government,” it was a cry for a savior from a dying world.

 


Mediator David Nutter

Team Leader David Nutter has successfully mediated and arbitrated over 1,500 cases since joining Miles. His team specializes in complex business disputes, employment, corporate and partnership litigation and dissolutions, and banking and finance. To schedule a mediation or arbitration with Mr. Nutter please call 678-320-9118 or visit his online calendar.

July 31, 2017 No Comments
Mediator Roy Paul

Mediator & Arbitrator Roy Paul is a member of Team Cohen in our Savannah office. He is a highly regarded neutral, who is particuarly commended for his expertise in areas of business disputes, commerical, estate & probate, construction, and complex personal injury matters. Learn more about Roy’s desire to be a mediator, his approach, and interests outside of his legal practice.

What made you want to become a lawyer?

My father was a chemist who ultimately ran ATF’s crime laboratory in Atlanta. He spent a lot of time testifying in Court and I grew up hearing stories about trials and lawyers.

What are you most proud of on your resume?

There are a number of things that come to mind. I am proud to have clerked for Judge Dudley Bowen. He was a wonderful mentor and was very kind to me. I am proud to have practiced with very fine lawyers at both my former firm, Bouhan, Williams & Levy and my current firm, Bart, Meyer & Company. I am proud to have been recognized by my peers as having particular experience in Commercial Litigation.

Why did you become a mediator over 10 years ago?

As an attorney, I have always taken very seriously my role not just as an advocate, but as a counselor. If no other resolution is possible, trying a case is one way to reach resolution. At the same time, I have always tried realistically to assess risk for my clients and to try to guide them to an appropriate negotiated resolution if that were at all possible. Mediation allows me to continue to find creative ways to resolve cases prior to trial.

What is the value of Alternative Dispute Resolution?

Alternative Dispute Resolution allows the parties themselves to control the outcome. I always emphasize to the parties in a mediation that they have the opportunity in mediation to control their own destinies. If they fail to take advantage of that opportunity, there will be a resolution by judge or jury – it just may not be the resolution that they are expecting or will want.

What is the most challenging part of being a mediator?

Every case is different. Every mediation is like a puzzle with a different solution. The challenging part is to find the best approach in a particular case.

What is your mediation style/approach?

I try very hard to listen to both sides and to try to be creative. My approach is to try to be analytical so that both sides accurately can assess their risk.

How would you clients describe you?

My clients would probably describe me as logical and generally calm. You often have to try to get your clients past emotional aspects of a case so that they can make a rational decision.

If you had to identify a passion for some area of the law, what would it be?

While I have practiced in a number of areas through the years, my specialty has been commercial litigation. I enjoy figuring out complex cases and then trying to get the best possible result for my clients.

Where Did You Grow Up? 

I grew up in Dekalb County near Oglethorpe University

What’s your Favorite Book?

It is hard to pick one. I tend to read a lot of history and biographies. I like T. Harry Williams’ biography of Huey Long and am currently reading a biography of Paul McCartney.

What do you like to do in your spare time? How do you unwind?

Like a lot of lawyers, I don’t have much spare time. I like to read and I play guitar. I am trying to get back into running. For many years, I ran the Peachtree Road Race, but have let myself get out of shape.

Do you have a favorite quote?

“It is amazing what you can accomplish if you do not care who gets the credit” – Harry Truman

What movie or novel character do you most identify with?

When I am particularly stressed out at work I identify with Bill Murray in Groundhog Day. 

What characteristic do you most admire in others?

I admire people who are kind, particularly when it is difficult under the circumstances.

What super power would you like to have?

As a very slow runner, it would be interesting to be really fast for a change.

If you could have dinner with anyone who would it be and why?

Thomas Jefferson. I actually read Dumas Malone’s multi-volume biography of Jefferson.  Jefferson was
interested in everything. It would be fun to explore with him what has happened with the country he helped found and to discuss modern transportation, technology etc.

 


To learn more about Roy, click here.

To book Roy for a mediation or arbitration, please call 912-417-2879 or click here.

July 31, 2017 No Comments
Mediator Joe Murphey at Miles office in Savannah

Team Leader/Mediator Joe Murphey has mediated several high-stakes mediations in Savannah over the past year and is slated to mediate at our Coastal office for the entire month of October (2017). Joe’s affinity for Savannah and the Georgia Coast is well-established, and we’re excited for him to do what he loves in his favorite city. Joe will still be available in Atlanta and other areas of the state, as needed, so if there’s a case in need of resolution outside of Savannah, you may call his Case Manager Jocelyn Parfaite (678-320-9118) or schedule online.

Joe recounts his love for Savannah and Coastal Georgia:

“It was a sunny summer day in 1989.  My fiancé (now wife) Susan and I were riding high.  We’d just graduated from Emory Law School, passed the bar, and, more importantly, had jobs.  This all happened in the span of May.  Before the grind of work commenced, we slipped away to Tybee Island for one last get away. And we fell in love.  Not just with each other (that was already a thing) but with Savannah and Tybee.  It was a fantastic week of fun and sun, and as we stood on the beach on our final night, watching the sun set, we vowed we’d come back some day to stay.

That was nearly 30 years ago, but Susan and I have never forgotten that week at Tybee, or our vow to return.  And we have returned.  Over the years we’ve rented houses and condos at the beach up and down the Georgia and Florida coasts — Atlantic side and Gulf — but we always end up returning to Tybee.  The place, and her people, are just the best. 

Work, and the work of raising kids, has kept us tied to the ATL for the past few decades, but the nest is now empty.  With more time on my hands, and a Miles Mediation office in Savannah, it’s time to fulfill the vow to return.  Susan and I booked a rental on Tybee for the entire month of October.  If she finds she can run her law practice from the deck of a Tybee condo, and I can score a few Savannah mediations, we’re one step closer to the goal….”   -Joe Murphey 

Click here to view Joe’s bio and online calendar for easy scheduling.

July 25, 2017 No Comments
mediation training

by Wendy Williamson, Esq.

I have trained hundreds of non-lawyers in civil mediation and participants frequently tell me that they wish they had trained earlier. I encourage you to complete mediation training sooner rather than later for the following reasons:

  1. To Minimize Attorneys in your Lives. Hiring an attorney to fix a dispute is like using money for home repairs rather than home improvements. Minimizing disputes allows you to hire attorneys for growth rather than damage control.  No matter your occupation, if you interact with people, your peace and success will depend upon your communication skills and your ability to manage difficult conversations effectively and efficiently.  Mediation training uses current research, hands-on exercises and role plays to exercise communication skills, to develop the ability to manage conflict and to build solutions through team work and agreement. Developing mediation skills enables you to spend your precious time, energy and resources on making a better life, business or relationship.
  1. To Manage your Stress Level. We live in very stressful times. Stress impacts on our ability to listen, think clearly and communicate effectively. In mediation training, we learn to create safe spaces where people can listen and reason. We learn how impactful location, timing, planning and written details can be on our productivity and success. We study how people think and make decisions, how to effectively be agents of reality, how to respectfully deal with emotions and expectations, how to manage our own emotions, how to practice active listening to avoid misunderstandings and develop trust and critical knowledge. The greatest threats to working relationships are miscommunication, unrealistic or unmet expectations and the perception of disrespect. The skills honed and practiced in mediator training will help you avoid these pitfalls and the resulting stress.
  1. A Proven Communication Weapon for a New World. Someone posts on Facebook, co-workers communicate by email copying “up the chain,” bosses text liberally at all hours or we join a conference call with faceless people from around the world. We can no longer rely upon workplace conversations taking place face-to-face or even at the workplace. How do we manage this communication blob? Strategically. Purposefully. Carefully. In mediation training, we learn to structure communication so that people can be heard and understood. We practice skills such as reframing, restating and brainstorming which compensate for the dangers inherent in conversations laden with opinions. Mediation is designed to bring back civil conversations in a world leaning toward voice-to-voice combat.
  1. Life Management. If you are like me, you find yourself having more difficult conversations in your daily life outside of work. Have you had a discussion about national politics or the Affordable Care Act lately? Whether we are in parent-teacher conferences, at our bank or dealing with co-workers, we have an increasing need to manage conversations wisely and productively. Mediation training is an invaluable life skill.

I hope I have the privilege to train you in the life skills of negotiation and mediation. Please join a class by registering here.


Why Should Non-Attorneys Complete Mediation Training
Wendy Williamson, Esq. is a mediator and instructor with Miles in Savannah and Atlanta.  She has over 20 years of mediation experience and is widely considered one of the top mediation trainers in Georgia.  
To schedule a mediation with Wendy, please call 678-320-9118 or visit her online calendar.

July 21, 2017 No Comments

DATE: August 22 , 2017
TIME: 12 p.m.- 1 p.m.
LOCATION: Coastal State Bar of Georgia Office
18 E. Bay St. Savannah, Georgia 31401 Mediator Joe Murphey's head shot

Join Team Leader/Mediator Joe Murphey for a free Lunch & Learn on mediation tips and strategies, seen through the lens of the infamous 1978 Gator Bowl, in which Coach Woody Hayes ended his career by punching opposing player, Charlie Bauman. This CLE is approved by the State Bar of Georgia for (1) hour of regular credit and (1) hour of ethics credit.

*CLE also available via webinar. Click here to register. 

*Excerpt from Joe’s presentation: 

The Fragility of a Good Professional Reputation Negotiation at mediation can be stressful, especially if the other side is acting in what you deem to be bad faith.  The combination of bad behavior from the opposition and growing client frustration and disappointment can boil over.  This is particularly true if the mediator is not effectively cooling things down.  Don’t be the lawyer whose long-established and well-earned reputation is sullied by a momentary outburst.  Don’t punch Charlie Bauman.  Take a deep breath.  Gather yourself together.  And make a counteroffer.*

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