ADR Section News & Tips September 2018
Message From the Chair
The ADR Section’s Executive Council has just finished a very productive kick-off planning retreat. The Executive Council has an amazing amount of talent, enthusiasm and experience, and I want to take this opportunity to commend all of them for taking the time and trouble to forgo their weekend to engage in long- and short-range planning for the section. We are all looking forward to an unforgettable year ahead!  

Here are some highlights that are on the horizon:
  • A Mentoring Academy to be held at Stetson University in Tampa in March 2019.
  • A new semi-annual publication called “Common Ground."
  • A working group with members from other interested Florida Bar Sections and stakeholders to address the Florida Supreme Court’s latest proposal on mandatory certification for mediators.
  • Extensive CLE offerings in the form of webinars and live seminars (including a showcase piece during The Florida Bar Annual Convention on mandatory dispute resolution clauses in transactional contexts).
  • The assessment of a process for establishing “key word” searching in MEAC opinions.
  • Increased involvement and leadership roles in the substantive training materials for dispute resolution practices in the Attorney Grievance (ACAP) process.
  • Continued growth in the section's new committees: Health & Wellness; Business, Real Estate and Employment Disputes; and Diversity and Communications (which now enfolds social media and the section’s publications).

If you want to get involved in any of these initiatives, please contact me or Chair-Elect Kim Torres and we will get you pointed in the correct direction. We are happy to have increased participation from the section on the EC’s projects and bonus you get to spend time with a group of people who are second to none.  

Christina Magee, Chair
Brevard Mediation Services, Satellite Beach
The ADR Executive Council, section members and special guests—including Florida Bar President Michelle Suskauer and President-Elect John M. Stewart—met earlier this month in Jensen Beach for the section's annual retreat, Executive Council meeting, networking, and productive and inspiring discussions. View more photos from the weekend in the Facebook album .
NEW: Ruby Solo
Ruby® has just rolled out a new product designed for "true solo" practitioners. For only $149 per month, Ruby Solo offers:

  • 30 live receptionist minutes.
  • A local phone number (or they can work with your existing number).
  • Voicemail box.
  • Live customer support.
  • Bilingual receptionist answering.

With Ruby’s mobile app, you can toggle Ruby’s coverage on and off as you need it, make and receive calls from your business number and (coming soon) send and receive SMS texts from your business number. Ruby Solo is an economical solution that allows customers to add an additional line to their cell phones, keep their personal numbers private, and benefit from a team of professional receptionists who make sure every business calls is answered. To learn more call 855-997-4769.

Ruby Receptionists is an official Florida Bar member benefit; receive 8 percent off with promo code TFB.
Recent MEAC Opinions
Special thanks to ADR Section member Christy Foley of The Law Office of Christy L. Foley in Winter Park for providing the opinion summaries.

2018-002. Addresses whether, during the course of a mediation, a mediator should mention an appellate decision he found in his own research that would significantly help the case of one party but that would also significantly hinder the case of another party. In essence, MEAC stated that the mediator may not mention the appellate decision he researched (if the parties don't mention it themselves) because presenting evidence that would clearly favor one party would breach the mediator’s requirement to remain impartial. Additionally, MEAC stated that the parties' self-determination would be violated since neither party mentioned that appellate decision or raised that decision as an issue. 

2018-001. Addresses whether a mediator can include a statement in the parties' final agreement that says: the mediator stayed neutral during the mediation, did not give anyone legal advice during the mediation, did not make decisions for the parties, and only acted as a scrivener when drafting the agreement (not as an attorney/legal advocate). In essence, MEAC stated that including such language in the final agreement could make the parties feel coerced into signing off on those terms if they want a written agreement to settle their dispute. MEAC also stated that such language adds substantive issues to the written agreement that the parties didn't raise themselves and those terms only benefit the mediator, which violates the parties' right to self-determination. Therefore, such a statement shouldn’t be included in the parties’ final agreement. 

2017-021. Addresses whether a mediator can restate one party's words to another party in the case where Party A is on the phone and Party B is deaf, but can read lips. The mediator wanted to restate what Party A said so that Party B could read his lips and participate in the mediation. In that case, MEAC essentially said that a mediator cannot perform dual roles as an interpreter and a mediator. An interpreter or translator would be needed in such a case.

2017-019. Addresses whether a mediator who is subpoenaed to testify about a mediation may file a motion to quash the subpoena. In essence, MEAC stated that such a motion could be filed in order to protect the confidentiality nature of a mediation. However, the mediator could appear in court and object in person, if he wanted to do that instead of filing a motion to quash the subpoena. MEAC also stated that a mediator in this position should consult an attorney (who's knowledgeable about the topic) to get more specific advice. 
MQDRB Seats Available
The Mediator Qualifications Discipline and Review Board has seats available for certified family mediators in three of its four divisions. The MQDRB is the grievance body under the Florida Rules for Certified and Court-Appointed Mediators. The MQDRB is comprised of over 60 members; up to 17 members each from the four regions of Florida. The members include judges, county mediators, family mediators, circuit mediators, dependency mediators, appellate mediators and non-mediator attorneys who meet in complaint committees and hearing panels when grievances are filed against certified or court-appointed mediators. In addition, the MQDRB’s three-member Qualifications Inquiry Committee reviews issues related to the findings of good moral character required for initial and ongoing certification.  

The MQDRB is currently accepting applications for the following member appointments:
  • Northern Division (1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 8th and 14th Judicial Circuits) – 3 family mediators
  • Central Division (5th, 7th, 9th, 10th, 18th and 19th Judicial Circuits) – 3 family mediators
  • Southeast Division (11th, 15th, 16th and 17th Judicial Circuits) – 1 family mediator

Application deadline Oct. 2, 1018. Please submit a letter of interest and current resume for the appointment in which you are interested to: Florida Dispute Resolution Center, Supreme Court Building, 500 S. Duval Street, Tallahassee, FL 32399. Fax (850) 922-9290 or email
LegalFuel's Free Document Library
The Practice Resource Center of The Florida Bar offers an online library of sample documents and forms that are excellent starting points for you to customize and use in your practice. Choose from more than 100 administrative forms in Microsoft Word format that cover topics like client correspondence, fee agreements, intake, changing firms and more. They may be used “as is” or modified as needed. 

The Florida Bar and the creators of these forms make no warranties, express or implied, concerning their use, and disclaim any responsibility whatsoever for the information contained in them.
Call For Authors and Speakers
The ADR Section is seeking volunteers to contribute to our CLE events and publications. We welcome new perspectives! If you have a recent blog post or speech that you can submit as an article for an upcoming issue of the ADR biannual magazine (newly renamed "Common Ground") please contact Michelle Jernigan or Natalie Paskiewicz. If you have a CLE topic idea you'd like to present, please contact Kim Torres.
Member News
Past Florida Bar President  Kelly Overstreet Johnson —an ADR Section Executive Council member—received the Tallahassee Bar Association's 2018 Martha Barnett Women Lawyers of Achievement Award. The award honors an “outstanding woman lawyer who has achieved professional excellence and who has been an advocate or mentor for the advancement of other women lawyers.” Martha Barnett is a past president of the  American Bar Association and the first woman chair of the ABA’s House of Delegates. Johnson is an attorney and mediator with Baker, Donelson, Bearman, Caldwell & Berkowitz  in Tallahassee. She is pictured with TBA President Eric Milles.
ADR Section Executive Council member Natalie Paskiewicz of Paz Mediation in St. Petersburg is offering five free mediations for qualifying circuit civil and family law cases during October, which is pro bono month. The mediations are available on a first come, first served basis in the Tampa Bay area only for qualifying pro bono or low bono circuit civil and family law cases. Space must be provided. Email with subject line “Pro Bono” for more information. Paskiewicz is a Florida Supreme Court Certified Circuit Civil Mediator and Arbitrator.
ADR Section member Deborah Mastin recently presented "Talking Your Way to Project Success; How Dispute Boards Prevent and Mitigate Claims" during the Construction Lawyers Society of America 2018 International Conference & Induction of Fellows in Banff, Alberta, Canada. Mastin is one of Miami’s most experienced mediators and arbitrators in construction, real estate, government procurement and energy. She is a Florida Bar Board Certified Construction Lawyer and a Florida Supreme Court certified circuit court mediator.
ADR Section members A. Michelle Jernigan and Robert J. Merlin recently participated in the CLE "Collaborative Process: Are Probate and Trust Disputes on the Horizon?" Collaborative law experts Merlin and Juan C. Antúnez discussed the collaborative process and challenged participants to use it as a dispute resolution tool in their practices.
Jernigan is an attorney, mediator and arbitrator with Upchurch Watson White & Max Mediation Group and serves as the ADR Section Treasurer.

Merlin is a Florida Bar Board Certified Family Law Specialist and a Florida Supreme Court Certified Family Mediator.
Submit Your News
The ADR Section monthly newsletter will publish updates about your firm, recent speaking engagements, awards, announcements and more. Please email your news to ADR Section Communications Consultant Lisa Tipton at .
You received this email because you are a member of the Alternative Dispute Resolution Section of The Florida Bar or you have expressed interest in our section.