Planning has begun for the fourth annual Mediation Settlement Day, which will kick off in New York City on Wednesday, October 13. Started by the Alternative Dispute Resolution Committee of the Association of the Bar of the City of New York in 2001, the event aims to increase awareness and understanding of the mediation process as well as to increase the use of mediation within the City and State of New York.
Lenny Wilkens, head coach of the New York Knicks, will serve as honorary chair for this year's event.Coach Wilkens has had to mediate disputes on an informal basis between players, referees, and colleagues during the 31 years of his illustrious career.
Mediation, a form of alternative dispute resolution (ADR), helps to resolve disputes between parties through facilitated discussions overseen by neutral, third-party mediators. As discussions during mediations are completely confidential and generally take place in an informal, neutral environment, the parties tend to be more open to "clearing the air" by talking to each other candidly about their problems and working together to resolve their dispute. Once the parties agree upon a solution, the agreement is often memorialized in writing and signed by the parties and mediator.
Last year's Mediation Settlement Day event was a success, led by honorary chair former United States Attorney General Janet Reno. A firm believer of "appropriate" dispute resolution, Attorney General Reno stressed the importance of ADR in helping people to resolve their disputes. She commented that every day should be Mediation Settlement Day.Mediation when properly done could reduce cost, time, and wear and tear. However, she warned against ruining mediation by building it up and then allowing it to become top heavy and costly thereby undermining important goals of mediation such as time and cost savings.
As part of the week of events surrounding Mediation Settlement Day 2003, Attorney General Reno met with representatives of several courts, agencies and organizations around New York City that employ mediation in resolving disputes, including the U.S. District and Bankruptcy Courts and the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Eastern District of New York, and New York City Family Court, as well as students and faculty at Brooklyn Law School. She learned about how ADR is being used in child abuse and other cases in Family Court and cited it as an example of how we can all make a difference if we challenge and push ourselves to use ADR in new and creative ways.
Each year since its inauguration in 2001, support for Mediation Settlement Day has grown to include an ever more diverse group of organizations in the mediation field.