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Alabama Center for Dispute Resolution

In this issue:

Pro Bono Mediators
From The Executive Director’s Desk
Mediation Clinic Spotlight
Foreclosure Prevention Mediation
Upcoming Mediation Training

October 2017 Newsletter

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Over the last few decades the field of alternative dispute resolution has grown tremendously. The recognition that not all disputes and cases are well suited for the adversarial process and that there are multiple paths to justice is increasingly shared by attorneys, judges and the public. In 2011, the American Bar Association (ABA) declared the third week of October as “ABA Mediation Week” in part building on the efforts of many other national, state, and local organizations, including the Association for Conflict Resolution (ACR) which has traditionally celebrated conflict resolution during the month of October. The ABA Mediation Week initiative is a celebration of the strides made in institutionalizing mediation as one of several appropriate dispute resolution processes.

  • Montgomery – October 20, 2017 at the Alabama State Bar
  • Mobile – November 27, 2017 at the Athelstan Club
  • Birmingham – November 29, 2017 at the Birmingham Bar Association

Registration and event details are posted on the Alabama State Bar event calendar, on the Alabama Center for Dispute Resolution training calendar at and on the Center’s Face-book page at Facebook/alabamaadr.

Faulkner Law Institute Dispute Resolution of Thomas Goode Jones School of Law is hosting a program on Thursday, October 19th entitled “Mediation, Civility and the Power of Understanding: Exploring the Advantages of Mediation in Employment, Family and Special Education Disputes.” Panelists include Barbara J. Wells, shareholder Capell & Howard, PC; Hon. Louis Colley, Municipal Judge and principal at the Law Office of Louis Colley, LLC; and Kia Scott, founder and principal attorney with Kia Scott Law. For more information contact




Not too long ago I reviewed a 2002 white paper published by the American Bar Association Section on Dispute Resolution and the Task Force on Access to Justice and Alternative Dispute Resolution entitled "Access to Justice through Alternative Dispute Resolution." The paper addressed ways in which the legal community could help meet the needs of low-income individuals.

The paper noted that “the natural synergy of access to justice and alternative dispute (ADR) processes is often overlooked because of court-centered focus on most access to justice projects and research.” The Task Force took a broad view of access to justice to include not only access to courts but access to legal representatives, access to resolution of issues and access to quality processes that don’t necessarily include the court system. The Task Force defined access to justice more broadly to include mediation, arbitration, negotiation and other alternatives.

Now that I’ve been in the position as Executive Director of the Alabama Center for Dispute Resolution (the Center) for a few months I wanted to get a better understanding of what we are doing in Alabama to help promote access to justice through mediation. In Alabama you will find volunteer mediators providing free services and law school clinical mediation programs helping litigants resolve disputes.

The Center has been gathering pro bono mediator statistics all the way back to 1997. The data shows that in 2016 Alabama’s registered mediators are a generous lot. Alabama mediators gave over 1,323 hours of pro bono service in 2016. Only 285 out of 446 mediators returned their surveys so pro bono hours may be even higher than what was reported. What does that equate to in dollars? According to Taproot, a service that places worth on a donor’s time, it comes to $198,450 ($150/hour) worth of mediation services.

Volunteer mediators are in several Alabama county courthouses. For example, the Madison County Courthouse operates a Small Claims Mediation program. According to Marjorie A. Stellingwerf, PhD, Coordinator of the Madison County Courthouse Volunteer Mediation Program, "We are mediating between five and ten cases a month." Dr. Stellingwerf commented that the cases are mainly small claims but occasionally a judge will ask for eviction mediation. The vast majority of cases seen in the Madison program involve pro se litigants. Volunteer mediators in the program are asked to make a two-to-three year commitment to the program and to mediate three-to-four times each month. Court sessions are usually held Monday through Thursday mornings All of the volunteer mediators have completed court-specific training and a 20-hour General Civil Mediation training program approved by the Alabama Center for Dispute Resolution. To volunteer or to find out more about the Madison County Mediation program you can email Dr. Stellingwerf at

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– Eileen Harris: Eileen Harris

I am truly grateful for the outstanding support I have received as Executive Director of the Alabama Center for Dispute Resolution. I want to thank the Alabama Supreme Court Commission on Dispute Resolution for the work that they do to promote ADR and promote access to justice for our community. I am grateful to the Alabama Supreme Court for their continued support for the Center as well as their authorization for funding the Parents are Forever Family Mediation program.

Thanks to the support of the Alabama Supreme Court, mediators have been able to assist over 530 families who have entered the Parents are Forever Family Mediation program since 2013. These include parents and children who benefit from the parenting plans developed during the course of mediation. During the period of October 1, 2016 through September 30, 2017 Alabama mediators helped 118 families which included 182 children. This program provides help to families during initial divorce and custody matters whose in-come does not exceed $60,000. The average family income from October 1, 2016 through September 30, 2017 was $42,351. Family mediators agree to take on these cases at a contract rate. Family mediators also gave 130.83 pro bono hours during this same period which equates to $19,624.50 of donated mediation services. Thank you Alabama mediators for all your work to help Alabama families!

Many thanks to the Alabama State Bar Section on Dispute Resolution for their efforts to sup-port the ABA’s Mediation Week. There are a series of free CLE events for lawyers, judges and mediators starting the third week of October and running through November. Their efforts help promote the theme for this year’s celebration of “Mediation, Civility, and the Power of Understanding.” The one-hour CLE will provide tips for mediators, the role of attorneys in mediation, a view from the bench and an update on the ACDR. We are fortunate to have panelists which include: Hon. Calvin Williams, (15th Judicial Circuit), William “Pete” Cobb (Balch & Bingham LLP), James “Jimmy” Walter (Capell & Howard, PC), R. Boyd Miller (Cabaniss, Johnston, Gardner, Dumas & O’Neal), Hon. J. Langford Floyd (Lloyd, Gray, Whitehead, and Monroe, P.C.), Hon. Lorraine Pringle (10th Judicial Circuit) and many others. We appreciate the assistance of the following county Bar Associations who are helping to spread the word about these events: Autauga, Birmingham, Mobile and Montgomery. We hope to see you at one of these events!

Thank you to Judge Melody Walker, District Judge in Cleburne County, for the opportunity to speak with the Calhoun County Bar Association on September 21st in the beautiful city of Anniston. Judge Walker has been a staunch supporter of mediation in family court. 

Website Update

Website's New Look!If you haven’t visited our web
site in a while I invite you to do
so. It is
It has a new look to it. The goal was to make it more customer- oriented for our courts, arbitrators, mediators, private judges, and the public. I think we have succeeded in giving the website a more streamlined and crisper appearance. Forms, brochures, registered mediators, arbitrators and private judges are easily accessible. Thank you to Margaret Meier de Cox with TEAM Support who helped to make it happen! The feedback I’ve received has been very positive. We are also trying to use Facebook more often so please “Like Us” on Facebook.

ADR at the Annual State Bar Meeting

ADR in AlabamaHats off to the ADR Section of the Bar for their panel discussion at the Alabama State Bar Annual Meeting on July 13, 2017!

Harold Stephens (Bradley Arant Boult Cummings LLP) moderated a panel discussion on how ADR is being used in Alabama. Panelists discussed Collaborative Mediation, Arbitration and Mediation to include the Family Mediation Project.

Thank you to Phillip Adams Jr. (White Oliver Short & Forbus LLP), Elizabeth Smithart of Union Springs, Martha Reeves Cook (ADR Section Chair), James Walter, Jr. (Capell & Howard PC) and Melanie Merkle Atha
(Cabaniss Johnston Gardner Dumas & O’Neal LLP) for providing an informative presentation.

The Center welcomes the 2017-18 Dispute Resolution Section
of the Bar Board Members.
Co– Chairs: Elizabeth Smith and
James N. “Jimmy” Walter, Jr.
Vice-Chair: Jana Russell Garner
Secretary/Treasurer: R. Boyd Miller
Member-at-Large: George M. “Jack” Neal, Jr.
Immediate Past Chair: Martha R. Cook

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Third year volunteer law student mediators and their professor from Faulkner University’s Jones School of Law outside of the Montgomery District Court
Pictured: Third year volunteer law student mediators and their professor from Faulkner University’s Jones School of Law outside of the Montgomery District Court.

Montgomery, AL— The Kenneth F. Dunham Mediation Clinic at Faulkner University's Jones School of Law provides volunteer law student mediators in Montgomery and Autauga counties. Students co-mediate basic civil disputes, often assisting pro se litigants. The Spring 2017 semester class co-mediated more than 40 cases with a 74% settlement rate and 91% party satisfaction rate. “In addition to providing a free service to litigants, serving as volunteer mediators helps the students develop a habit of serving our community that we hope will remain with them throughout their careers," stated Prof. Elyce Morris who directs the clinic.

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Libya: Conflict Resolution
And The Role Of Tribal Leaders

MONTGOMERY, AL – On August 8th I had the privilege to speak with eight Libyan tribal leaders and their interpreters about Alternative Dispute Resolution in Alabama and the work of the Alabama Center for Dispute Resolution. The participants were selected by our US Embassies and determined to be emerging leaders in their country.

This program was made possible by the U.S. Department of State’s Office of International Visitors, Mediation International Center (Washington, DC), and Global Ties America (Huntsville, Alabama). The Department of State outlined the following objectives for the project which included: 1) Increase participant’s capacity to adapt various negotiation, mediation, and facilitation techniques to resolve conflict in their local contexts; 2) Empower tribal leaders to advocate peace-fully and effectively to address grievances and protect rights; and 3) Improve inter-tribal cooperation.

The tribal leader participants included representatives from School Management, International Medical Corps, Ministry of Education, Libyan Women’s Association, Libyan Dialogue and Reconciliation Organization, Civil Society organizations, Director of the Medical Oxygen Factory, and the Libyan Complex for Studies.

It was my pleasure to speak about the Alabama Center for Dispute Resolution and specifically, the Parents are Forever Family Mediation and the Foreclosure Prevention Mediation pro-grams. Each participant received a copy of the ACDR “Gold Book on ADR in Alabama.” I had a delightful afternoon with these exceptional leaders! Opportunities like this are made possible thanks to the support of the Alabama Supreme Court Commission on Dispute Resolution.

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Foreclosure Prevention/Mortgage Modification Mediation Program Update

The Center has limited funding to pay mediators to assist homeowners who are facing foreclosure or who are at risk of foreclosure. The homeowner will call the Alabama State Bar Volunteer Lawyers Program (ASB VLP) at (334) 517-2246 to see if they qualify for the program. The threshold for assistance is 250% of the poverty level. The homeowner will receive a letter letting them know if they do or do not qualify for assistance.

Foreclosure mediation funding was made possible through a grant from the Alabama Law Foundation and the Alabama Civil Justice Foundation.

Thank you Linda Lund for your help with the program!

More about the Foreclosure Mediation Program

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The Center has a new address
and contact information

During August the Center relocated to better allow us to accomplish our mission and to increase our efficiency.

Our mailing address is Alabama Center for Dispute Resolution, PO Box 5042, Montgomery, AL 36103-5042.

Our phone number changed to (334) 356 -3802.

And, yes, we have new email addresses.
You can reach us at or

I wish to thank Phillip McCallum, Executive Director, Alabama State Bar and his staff for helping to ensure a smooth transition.

Hats off to ASB staff members Hunter Harris, Mary Francis Garner, Stephanie Oglesby, Kristi Skipper, Ann Rittenour, Linda Lund, Katherine Church, and Bonnie Mainor. I am sure I left someone off this list but it is not intentional.

We are like a family with the Bar and will continue to work together seamlessly albeit a few blocks away.

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2017 In-State Mediation Training
for the remainder of the year

(all approved for CLE and roster registration as long as applicant meets other requirements)

Dates Training Topic Location
Nov 2-6, 2017 Divorce and Family Mediation Birmingham, AL
Nov 7, 2017 Advanced Mediation Birmingham, AL
Nov 8, 2017 Advanced Mediation Birmingham, AL
Nov 9, 2017 Advanced Mediation Huntsville, AL
Nov 13, 2017 Advanced Mediation Mobile, AL
Nov 14, 2017 Advanced Mediation Dothan, AL
Nov 15, 2017 Advanced Mediation Montgomery, AL
Nov 16-17, 2017 Domestic Violence Mediation Birmingham, AL
Nov 7-9, 2017 General/Civil Mediation Birmingham, AL

Training by MediationMedia (Troy Smith, JD).
Register at, or at 1-800-ADR-FIRM.

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Our renewal letter will include your profile and the 2017 survey.

Please complete and return by January 31, 2018.

Thank you!

Renewal fees:

  • Mediator: $150
  • Arbitrator: $150
  • Mediator & Arbitrator: $250
  • Private Judge: $150

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November 8th-15th 2017

2017 Delegation to the Asia Pacific Mediation Forum Annual Conference in Da Nang, Vietnam

Brāv Conflict Management is proud to have been invited to send two of our Brāv Ambassadors to the APMF Conference in Da Nang to talk about the importance of Online Dispute Resolution in the International Business Community.

Dr. Christopher Smithmyer and Dr. Buddy Thornton (ABD) will be giving two of the Keynote speeches, along with other international experts. Brāv invites you to join them on this once in a lifetime opportunity to support legal conflict resolution and management in the Far East.

Brāv is sending a delegation of no more than 45 people to be part of this amazing opportunity.

May 10 – 28, 2018: Australia

Brāv Conflict Management is pleased to announce its 2018 Education Abroad Trip for Professionals.

This is the opportunity for you take that trip you wanted to take in college, but as a professional who can fully enjoy the experience and know how to apply the education to your business life. The trip includes all transportation from LAX round trip, along with all buses and planes in country, all listed events in the detailed flyer, all accommodations, many meals, your Visa for going to Australia and the fees for the guides. Depending on your jurisdiction this program is worth up to 30 CLE, CBE or CME Hours.

For more information about these opportunities email:


Interdisciplinary Coollaborative Practice Basic Training
Interdisciplinary Collaborative Practice Basic Training
February 2-3, 2018 8:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.
at the Birmingham Bar Association.
Contact Melanie Atha at (205) 716-5212
or Virginia Miller at (205) 703-0586.


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Let's go social!

Alabama Center for Alternative Dispute Resolution goes Social!

FacebookThe Alabama Center for Dispute Resolution is on Facebook. Visit our page at and "Like us" to keep up with the latest news and happenings at the Alabama Center For Dispute Resolution!

TwitterWe're also on Twitter! While we don't have a lot of "fast-breaking news," we have a Twitter account to keep you up on the latest. Follow us @AlabamaADR at

YouTubeCheck out our YouTube channel for videos and pointing-to-reference videos related to mediation, negotiation, arbitration, restorative justice, and more. Visit Alabama Alternative Dispute Resolution Center on YouTube.

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Alabama Center for Dispute Resolution
PO Box 5042, Montgomery, AL 36103-5042
Voice: 334.356.3802 - Contact Information
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