De-escalating Conflict Through Respectful Communication: 11 Quotations to keep us on track.

De-escalation of conflict is important in mediation and in society.  We can do much simply by treating respectfully those with whom disagree. It is hard.  Often, I want to strike back verbally when I read words that run counter to… Continue Reading

Testimony in Support of Reform to Small Claims Mediation

Chair Prozanski and members of the committee. Background My name is Jeff Merrick.  Since 2012, I have served as a volunteer mediator in small claims court for Clackamas and Multnomah Counties. During that 5 years and over 100 cases, I’ve… Continue Reading

Improving Mediation and Trial Process in Small Claims Court

I drafted a law to improve mediation and trial in small claims courts.  One of the proposals is to allow one spouse to appear for both (so the other can work or take care of the kids).  It passed Oregon’s… Continue Reading

“Clean Language” Is Not What You Think.

Yesterday, Multnomah County Court treated its mediators to a seminar on “Clean Language.”   It was not about avoiding F-Bombs.  Hell no.  “Clean language” is a method of listening, facilitation and gathering information that seeks to minimize “interference” from the facilitator’s… Continue Reading

Jacqueline Abel shares mediator best practices.

Jacqueline Abel is well known to Oregon’s mediation community.  Few have more experience and exposure to mediation. It was my pleasure to work with her and learn from her when she served as Mediation Coordinator for Multnomah County’s Court. Upon… Continue Reading

Motivational Interviewing: a Mediator Tool to Help Ambivalent Parties

The parties are close, but both resist one final move. That is the predictable third impasse in many mediations. Some people resist because of stubbornness and others because of ambivalence. Mediators can borrow concepts from Motivational Interviewing to help ambivalent… Continue Reading

Mediate in Lieu of Mandatory Arbitration

For civil suits under $50,000, state law requires nonbinding arbitration.  However, an underused local rule allows parties to Multnomah County lawsuits to substitute mediation for nonbinding arbitration. Mediation is a great option because arbitration is not always the best way… Continue Reading

Not Exactly a Picnic.

The court file screamed, CONSTITUTIONALIST, POSSE COMMITATUS, and, most importantly for a mediator, NO COMPROMISE. The “natural born citizen” challenged everything from the authority of the court, to proper service, to some of the most fundamental rules of law by… Continue Reading

What Makes a Good Mediator?

What are the desirable traits of a mediator?  I reviewed five articles on the topic and came up with five characteristics.  Although people use different words, the concepts are fairly consistent from survey to survey. *  “Humanity” encompasses some characteristics… Continue Reading

Should Oregon Mediation Association certify mediators?

. . . the OMA would do nothing to certify competence. It would merely set standards for education and experience and then certify that people met those standards if the applicant for certification SAID they met the OMA standard. What follows is my feedback to the OMA. Continue Reading

Understanding-Based Model of Mediation, Part 1

Gary Friedman leads the 40-hour intensive mediation training that I will attend this week. He’s a proponent of what he and co-author Jack Himmelstein call the Understanding-Based Model of Mediation.* Four principles guide this approach. The first and, by far,… Continue Reading

How to Mediate Insured Claims and Other Monetary Disputes.

Mediators fantasize about converting fierce opponents into genial joint problem solvers. However, in the real world of personal injury and other lawsuits for money, mediators must help parties who hear the first offer and shout, “That’s insulting! Don’t they realize.… Continue Reading

Too much mediation? Try a civil conversation first.

Elden Rosenthal was spot-on in his article Second Thoughts on Mediation, A Trial Lawyer’s View. Mediation is not appropriate or necessary for every case. Mandatory mediation contravenes the most fundamental principle of mediation: self-determination regarding what process to use to… Continue Reading