Miles’ Neutrals Train Judges in Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) Techniques
Miles’ neutrals Gino Brogdon, Jr., Hon. Susan Forsling, and Jennifer Grippa recently participated in judges’ training in association with Kennesaw State University’s Center for Conflict Management. We spoke to all three about their roles in the training, which focused on alternative dispute resolution (ADR) techniques.
Training Judges on ADR Theory and Practice
“The training I did was with judges looking to transition into mediation and arbitration. I did a one-hour training related to the use of brackets in mediation and other strategies to help close the gap,” says Gino. “We had a great time, and I had a lot of engagement about both bracket and non-bracket strategies. Also, I had the opportunity to teach them about reading data points and what specific numbers mean throughout a mediation.”
Susan, a former judge, spoke on the transition from a judicial career to a fulltime mediation practice. “The talk had three topics. First, process. Letting them know how different the process of mediation is from adjudicating, letting them know what judicial skills they bring to the process and letting them know which ‘judicial’ tools were no longer available to them,” says Susan. “I also talked a bit about the current mediation climate.” She also discussed the personality required to be a successful mediator, and what it takes to build a fulltime mediation practice.
Jennifer instructed the judges in the art of neutrality. “I offered guidance on establishing trust as a mediator, imparted techniques for reframing the parties’ positions and controlling the flow and focus of negotiations, and shared methods to address risks with the parties,” says Jennifer. “I supervised their role-plays and gave feedback and suggestions for improvement. The judges were very inquisitive about advanced negotiation strategies and the transition to being a mediator.”
The Benefits of Mediation Training for Judges
This type of training is beneficial to judges because they can use mediation tactics in their court rooms to help get cases resolved. “Oftentimes, judges are the unacknowledged mediators in the courtroom,” says Gino. “There are settlements they get the parties to without a formal mediation. This helps bring resolution and lowers their docket. Finally, these judges were very experienced and looking to transition, so these skills were also directly applicable to becoming new mediators.”
“It’s important for judges to know these things even if they don’t decide to do mediation after the bench, so they understand the purposes, challenges, and limitations of mediation,” adds Susan.
“Judges find this training highly advantageous as it provides them with unique perspectives from seasoned, full-time neutrals who regularly navigate challenging personalities and negotiation dynamics. Surprisingly, some of the judges were more passive than I expected in controlling confrontations between the parties during roleplays,” says Jennifer.
“There’s a common perception among attorneys that former judges serving as mediators tend to exhibit a higher degree of assertiveness, but the judges in this training proved to be exceptional listeners and exhibited great patience throughout the role-playing scenarios,” she adds. “Overall, I think trainings like this help former judges recognize that the role of a mediator differs significantly from that of a decision-maker.”
Finally, there is another benefit to this training. “Judges and attorneys who are well-versed in ADR techniques can provide valuable guidance on when and how to use ADR effectively. ADR is increasingly being encouraged, and even mandated in some jurisdictions, as a condition precedent to trial,” says Jennifer. “This underscores the importance of judges transitioning from the bench to a mediator role possess the crucial skill of being impartial and neutral facilitators in guiding parties toward resolution.”
ABOUT MILES MEDIATION & ARBITRATION
Miles Mediation & Arbitration, headquartered in Atlanta, is an award-winning alternative dispute resolution (ADR) firm. The firm specializes in mediation, arbitration, special master and all forms of dispute management and is known for its exceptional client service and reputation of delivering successful results. The firm handles all case sizes and types, including complex, multi-party disputes in areas of business, finance, construction, medical negligence, personal injury, wrongful death, trucking, real estate, insurance coverage, fiduciary, estate and probate, and premises liability. For more information, please call 888-305-3553.