Print Page   |   Contact Us   |   Sign In   |   Join the VBA
All Things ADR
Blog Home All Blogs

Busy lawyers can become better negotiators.

The Joint Alternative Dispute Resolution Committee has worked since 1986 to further the many forms of ADR in Virginia.

These leaders of The Virginia Bar Association and the Virginia State Bar continue to write, publish and present lessons and relevant practice information -- not only of value to full-time neutrals, but to the legal community at large.

We hope you'll find elements in these posts that enhance your law practice and welcome your comments.

Guidelines for the entire VBA online presence are also important for the users of the All Things ADR blog. Guidelines for online participation.


Search all posts for:   


Top tags: ADR  Alternative Dispute Resolution  Joint ADR Committee  mediation  Joint Alternative Dispute Resolution Committee  negotiation  Professor James Coben  training  arbitration  ethics  mediators  rules of professional conduct  The Virginia Bar Association  tips and techniques  VBA Online CLE  war stories  ABA Section on Dispute Resolution  ADR clauses  ADR provisions  ADR statutes  Automated ADR program  Brad Davenport  case study  certification  Chuck McPhillips  collaboration  Community Relations Service  conversation  David E. Nagle  Deborah Blevins 

Food for Thought - The Hostile Mediator

Posted By Jeri K. Somers, Tuesday, May 30, 2017

I recently ran across an unexpected perspective on mediation. Generally, experienced mediators adopt a style of mediation that encourages the parties to openly discuss concerns, which can lead to resolving conflict. Typically, the mediator works to defuse negative emotions between the adverse parties by encouraging open communication and discussion, while discouraging parties from focusing on previous negative interactions that have lead them to the point of impasse.

An interesting study challenges the theory that mediators must be “kind facilitators.” The study, entitled “The Surprising Effectiveness of Hostile Mediators,” suggests that hostile mediators can successfully resolve a mediation for various reasons. It concludes that the previous adversaries may “feel more connected and become more willing to reach agreement” when facing a hostile mediator. As an example, on page two of the study, the authors describe the mediation technique of the former Finnish President Martti Ahtisarri (described as a world-renowned conflict mediator of international crises). The study notes that “Ahtisarri’s strategy demonstrates that stern treatment of both parties can have an unusual effect: adversaries who moments before were in conflict may find themselves more united against a hostile mediator – and might even end up finding room for agreement.” The study is discussed in a Scientific American article, "How Tough-Guy Mediators Can Turn 'Them' into 'Us.'”

So let’s share ideas on this – post your comments!

Tags:  hostile mediators  Martti Ahtisarri  mediation  The Surprising Effectiveness of Hostile Mediators 

Share |
PermalinkComments (1)

Book Review - Making Money Talk: How to Mediate Insured Claims and Other Monetary Disputes

Posted By Claudia Farr, Thursday, April 20, 2017
Updated: Thursday, April 20, 2017

I like to make the most of my limited book-reading time, so I especially like recommendations from colleagues in the ADR world. Some time back, a mediator I know and respect suggested this book, first published in 2007, but as relevant as ever. It was superb and I pass the recommendation on to you.

The book is "Making Money Talk: How to Mediate Insured Claims and Other Monetary Disputes," by J. Anderson Little. The author’s focus is on litigated money disputes, which he views as fundamentally different from disputes involving primarily interpersonal conflict. As he puts it, money disputes in insured claims inevitably involve positional bargaining, and resist reframing efforts to cast them as opportunities for joint problem-solving and mutual gain. They are different from family or workplace mediations.  

So what’s an “insured claim” mediator to do – just serve as a messenger between caucused parties? The author rejects that notion, and provides useful, often confirming insight into the dynamics of money negotiations, as well as new tools for mediators to consider. Chapters address making a place for traditional bargaining, helping negotiators overcome negative reactions to each other’s proposals, closing the gap between “best numbers” and settlement, standards of conduct in the mediation of civil litigation, and ways to respond to some 25 settlement clichés often voiced by the parties’ attorneys during monetary dispute mediation. So give this book a try!  

Now for you:  What tips, books, articles, or other ADR learning resources can you recommend to the rest of us? Whether you represent clients in negotiations, mediation, arbitration, or serve as an arbitrator, mediator, or both, let’s hear from you. Shared learning takes us all higher.

Tags:  insured claim  Joint ADR Committee  Joint Alternative Dispute Resolution Committee  mediation  shared learning  tips and techniques 

Share |
PermalinkComments (1)

Upcoming Meeting and ADR in National Affair

Posted By Administration, Tuesday, January 31, 2017

A reminder that the next council meeting of the Joint Alternative Dispute Committee will be Feb. 16 at 10 a.m. in the VBA office. Conference call information for this meeting of the leadership of the committee is available.

The VBA office is located at 700 E. Franklin St., Suite 1120, Richmond, VA 23219.

The VBA will be moving its headquarters sometime this spring to the Bank of America Center, also in downtown Richmond. In a space twice the existing footprint, the new headquarters will include a bar center dubbed VBA on Main with various meeting, working, collaborating, socializing and lounging space unique among statewide bar groups in Virginia. Watch for construction updates - once building begins - on the VBA homepage at

ADR in national affairs

Jeanne Franklin, a past chair of the Joint ADR Committee and the pen behind many of the posts on this blog, added a musing to her firm blog at Franklin Solutions today. "Still Waters: Finding Answers" looks at the common skills of dispute resolvers and fine leaders to calm the shock some Americans have experienced of late. Take a look.

Tags:  Jeanne Franklin  Joint Alternative Dispute Resolution Committee 

Share |
PermalinkComments (0)

Coming Up Fast! Joint ADR Committee Co-Sponsors Dec. 12 Webinar

Posted By Administration, Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Joint Alternative Dispute Resolution Council members Jim Cosby and Robert Loftin set to work to create a program focused on arbitration-related questions and issues lawyers should be able to handle. Former council member Brad Davenport joined the effort and, working with Virginia CLE, they are offering what will be a must-not-miss arbitration program, “Arbitration Today: Goals and Reality.” Joined by retired Justice LeRoy Millette Jr. and David E. Nagle they form a SUPERB panel.

It's all part of continuing the Joint ADR Committee's 2016 focus on arbitration issues.

This two-hour Dec. 12 program, from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m., will dig into the “state of the art of arbitration, where it has been, where it can go, and the issues in between.”

Dec. 12 is almost here. Go to the Virginia CLE website and register for this program, available live on-site, via webcast or by telephone.

Tags:  arbitration  Brad Davenport  David E. Nagle  Jim Cosby  LeRoy Millette Jr.  Robert Loftin 

Share |
PermalinkComments (0)

Kudos to Chair-Elect Deborah Blevins

Posted By Administration, Thursday, October 13, 2016

In September 2016, the Virginia Workers’ Compensation Commission received the inaugural Innovation Award from the International Association of Industrial Accident Boards and Commissions.

This award recognized and honored the agency’s innovative Automated ADR program developed to accommodate the growing demand for ADR services. The new system provides electronic capability and processes for case assessment, issue identification, scheduling and resolution.

The Honorable Deborah Blevins presents a CME session about the Automated ADR program at the Virginia Workers' Compensation Commission to the Joint ADR Council in 2014Joint ADR Chair-elect Deborah Blevins has been instrumental in developing this ADR program for the agency and played a role in Virginia's receipt of this prestigious award.

As explained by Blevins, the agency’s new program is a cost- and time saver for injured workers and employers alike and leads to efficient resolution of claims.

Two years ago, she gave a CME presentation to the JADR Council about the ADR program.

Congratulations for the leadership, and the achievement! Virginia’s legal ADR community salutes you.

Tags:  Automated ADR program  Deborah Blevins  Innovation Award  International Association of Industrial Accident B  Virginia Workers' Compensation Commission 

Share |
PermalinkComments (0)

What's Your View of Arbitration?

Posted By Administration, Thursday, September 1, 2016

Joint ADR Committee Chair Will Shewmake announced a committee focus this year on arbitration. In the Committee’s ADR Advisory of Aug. 31, he describes several programs on arbitration that the committee will present in the remaining months of 2016. Check it out.

Please also take a look at the forceful response published in the ABA’s Summer 2016 Dispute Resolution Magazine to the New York Times’ fall 2015 series on arbitration. Written by Professor David B. Lipsky, the ABA article challenges the conclusions in the Times articles and generalizations about the value and fairness of the arbitration process. Professor Lipsky is an advocate both for the use of arbitration and for making changes that will enhance its transparency and fairness.

Lawyers interested in understanding better whether, how and when to use arbitration should review Professor Lipsky’s points.

Tell us your experiences and views of arbitration!

Tags:  arbitration 

Share |
PermalinkComments (0)

A Lawyer and Neutral Best Practice? Honing Powers of Mental Focus

Posted By Administration, Monday, August 1, 2016

Law practice, ADR, and meditation may seem to be strange bedfellows.

Yet there is a more recent emphasis on the merit of lawyers, leaders and neutrals incorporating some kind of meditation practices into their lives in order to perform better professionally (not to mention effects on one’s inner life). Examples are an article in the May 2016 D.C. Bar’s Washington Lawyer, about habits that improve performance (“Peak Performance: Conditions for Optimal Functioning”).

Also, Linda Lazarus of Washington, D.C., was a featured presenter at the April ABA Dispute Resolution Conference. A former litigator turned ADR neutral, she also teaches meditation practices and touts them as beneficial to the effectiveness of mediators’ work, and to the management of workplace conflict and stress. We hope to publish some of her work in a future committee newsletter. Stay tuned. In the meantime, go to if you want to seek more information about this area and her work in it.

Tags:  ADR  Linda Lazarus  managing workplace conflict  managing workplace stress  meditation  neutrals 

Share |
PermalinkComments (1)

To Make Peace - Again

Posted By Administration, Thursday, July 14, 2016

The tragic shootings during the week of July 4 in Baton Rouge, Louisiana; Dallas, Texas; and Falcon Heights, Minnesota, have seized Americans with grief, despair and anger. These events shine a light on flaws in the social fabric and galvanize debate as to what can be done within communities from small ones up to the national level to instill confidence in our respect for core national values.

Did you know that the U.S. Department of Justice has a branch called the Community Relations Service that is deployed in immediate response to certain tragedies rooted in intergroup and other misunderstandings and prejudices? Trained mediators and facilitators facilitate calming and peace-building discussions in communities hit by such events. Grande Lum, a lecturer at Stanford Law School, served as director of this service, which received the ABA Section on Dispute Resolution's Lawyer as Problem Solver Award in 2014 and the Association for Conflict Resolution 2013 Peacemaker Award.

Many are offering prayers for survivors and those affected by these latest tragedies. Our committee members also may offer thoughts of what can and ought to be done to prevent more such events and to make sure something good emerges in their wake and the wake of other similar breaches of peace and safety.

Tags:  ABA Section on Dispute Resolution  Community Relations Service  Grande Lum  Lawyer as Problem Solver Award  Peacemaker Award 

Share |
PermalinkComments (0)

Learn Lessons from the Trenches

Posted By Administration, Wednesday, July 6, 2016

The program and materials from the Joint ADR Committee's January 2016 presentation by Professor James Coben are available for viewing or listening, with CLE credit. Go to VBA Online CLE and look for "Disputing Irony: A Systematic Look at Litigation about Mediation."

Learning from the trials or errors of others is a great way to guide your choices and handling of a dispute resolution process. An earlier blog post describes just one such lesson. Lawyers of all ages and experience levels can benefit from this program.


  • 1.5 CLE Credits, approved by Virginia CLE
  • 1 hour, 28 minutes
  • Watch/listen in video or podcast
  • Available to VBA and non-VBA members, with discounts for members

Tags:  Joint ADR Committee  Professor James Coben  VBA Online CLE 

Share |
PermalinkComments (0)

Is Your Joint ADR Membership Current?

Posted By Administration, Tuesday, June 14, 2016
Updated: Monday, June 13, 2016

Are you curious about this Joint ADR Committee, how it got started, why it is “joint,” what we are trying to do, and why it is possibly the best bargain in town?

Join us to find out about Virginia’s unique ADR community and why it is at the forefront. For a taste, see the April 2016 Virginia Lawyer article by member Jeanne Franklin, "How ADR Has Changed the Practice of Law -- or Has It? Join Our Dialogue."

2016 VSB dues insert for Joint ADR Committee membershipsNow is the perfect time. Practicing lawyers in the Virginia State Bar recently received a mailed invoice for VSB dues. Inside that mailing is a cream-colored insert for Joint ADR dues renewals and for new member sign-ups. Dues for this active section are $25 a year. Encourage your colleagues to join!

Please submit payment or credit card information with the filled-out insert data to The Virginia Bar Association, as noted on the form.

Joint ADR Committee members who also are VBA members are invoiced on a calendar year schedule. If you have questions about your VBA membership, please call the association at 804-644-0041.

For details about the Joint ADR Committee, go to our webpage on the website or navigate to

Tags:  dues  Joint Alternative Dispute Resolution Committee  The Virginia Bar Association  Virginia State Bar 

Share |
PermalinkComments (2)
Page 1 of 3
1  |  2  |  3
Association Management Software Powered by YourMembership  ::  Legal