Conference Sessions

Ethics Opinion 675: What Happened and What Next?

Opening Plenary
Friday, March 1 9:15 - 10:45 AM
Malachite Showroom

Session Description:

In August 2018, the Professional Ethics Committee of the State Bar of Texas issued Opinion 675 declaring that Texas attorneys acting as mediators may prepare a proposed written settlement agreement that memorializes the terms of the parties’ agreement reached during mediation and present that agreement to the parties. The opinion resolved an important question for mediators who are Texas attorneys, but it left the question unanswered for everyone else. This presentation will discuss Opinion 675 and suggest ideas for routes to expanding the benefits of the opinion to all mediators.

Ethics credit: 1.5

The Brain in Conflict: Bringing Science to the Mediation Table

Session A
Friday, March 1 11:00 AM - 12:30 PM
Bel-Air I-III

Session Description:

A brain hijacked by conflict has the potential to wreak havoc on the mediation process. It is essential that mediators have the tools to be able to recognize and navigate “the conflict brain” during a mediation. This session will provide insight into the critical role that the brain plays in conflict, emotion, collaboration, and resolution. The relationship between the brain and decision-making, empathy, problem-solving, bias, and listening will be explored. Learn how instinctual responses can be tempered by connecting these important elements with strategies which can be applied at the mediation table.

Between Two Homes - Focus on the Ongoing Family Pre-Mediation and Post-Mediation

Session B
Friday, March 1 11:00 AM - 12:30 PM
Bel-Air IV-VI

Session Description:

A central value to the practice of mediation is client self-determination. Many children are growing up between two homes due to family circumstances, and family mediators find themselves involved in working within these complex family structures. This presentation offers participants the opportunity to familiarize themselves with the dynamics of these families, relevant standards of practice and ethical guidelines, and pre/post-mediation options. The presentation also offers information on resources to help families prepare for mediation and to reduce the possibility of ongoing litigation and relitigation post-mediation.

Ethics credit: 1.0

Successful LGBT Mediations - What Every Mediator Should Know

Session C
Friday, March 1 11:00 AM - 12:30 PM
Mayfair

Session Description:

Who is LGBTQIA, and what does that mean? This session will discuss proper terminology and definitions, the proper use of pronouns, and the difference between sexual orientation and gender identity. It will also include a legislative update on LGBT legislative treatment, implications, and climate. There will be a brief legal update focusing on different cities and counties in Texas and the likely handling of LGBTQ disputes by courts, especially in the areas of family law, probate, and employment. Tips for successful LGBT mediations will be given, including practical considerations for the mediator, litigator, and participants in the mediation. Emphasis will be placed on confidentiality and on respect for LGBTQ claimants. Participants will be asked to spot the legal, political, and social issues in hypotheticals posed by the presenter.


Ethics credit: .5

When the Challenge Isn’t the Client: Dealing with Attorney and Third-Party Personalities and Agendas in Family Mediation

Session D
Friday, March 1 2:00 - 3:30 PM
Malachite Showroom

Session Description:

Mediators face considerable challenges facilitating communication and compromise between opposing parties in family law disputes. That difficulty intensifies when there is disunity or discord between a party and her/his own attorney or between a party and a third-party participant who is presumably present at the mediation in support of that party. Our expert panel draws from their experience to discuss how to respond to various obstacles and difficulties associated with different personalities on the same side of a mediated dispute.

Implicit Bias, Emotional Intelligence, and the Empathetic Mediator

Session E
Friday, March 1 2:00 - 3:30 PM
Bel-Air IV-VI

Session Description:

Implicit bias describes unconscious, automatic responses associated with groups of people that tend to cause predisposed responses, even though the person is not aware of the bias. This workshop will explore how to become aware of internal biases and how to set them aside when mediating. We will discuss microaggressions, code-switching, and the importance of mediators becoming more empathetic and self-aware. We will use interactive exercises to illustrate tools for becoming more culturally competent and emotionally intelligent. Mediators have an ethical duty to know their own biases and to develop skills that transcend and transform them for the benefit of parties from diverse backgrounds, tribes, and ethnicities.

Ethics credit: .5

Marketing for the Modern Mediator

Session F
Friday, March 1 2:00 - 3:30 PM
Mayfair

Session Description:

Your potential clients don't care what you do. They care why you do it. What motivates you as a mediator and what contribution do you make to our shared human experience? In other words, your brand. A brand story should include your mission, vision, and values, as well as the promise you make to clients and much more. From the brand story emerges the brand messaging. Together, the brand story and messaging communicate how your mediation practice differs from other practices and why this matters. In this workshop, you'll learn the core components of a brand story. You will receive insights and worksheets to assist in developing your brand, and tips for effectively marketing your modern mediation practice.

The Interplay between the Texas Judicial System and Alternative Dispute Resolution: a View from the Bench

Session G
Friday, March 1 3:45 - 5:15 PM
Bel-Air I-III

Session Description:

Chief Justice John Bailey of the 11th Court of Appeals in Eastland will provide an overview of the Texas Judicial System by discussing the various trial and appellate courts in the state. This discussion will be geared toward all mediators—attorneys and other professionals. Chief Justice Bailey will share the views of the Texas judiciary regarding ADR. He will also discuss selected cases that have addressed the enforcement of arbitration agreements and settlement agreements. The presentation will conclude with a question and answer session.

Mediating in a Virtual World: Challenges and Lessons Learned

Session H
Friday, March 1 3:45 - 5:15 PM
Bel-Air IV-VI

Session Description:

As recently as January 2, 2019, the Connecticut courts launched their Online Dispute Resolution (ODR) program for contract disputes. ODR is growing in the U.S. and expanding to cover workplace and EEO disputes. What does it mean to mediate in an online environment? How is it different and what do mediators need to consider in terms of communications with parties, process adjustments, and convening with parties to prepare them for a virtual experience? Patricia Porter shares her challenges and lessons learned while mediating workplace and EEO disputes in a virtual environment.

Mediator Competence and Proficiency: Empirical Standards

Session I
Friday, March 1 3:45 - 5:15 PM
Mayfair

Session Description:

Mediation is a conflict resolution process, facilitated by a mediator, that empowers the disputing parties to determine the outcome of a dispute. However, mediation is not a licensed profession and, therefore, lacks consistency or agreement regarding effective mediator practice standards; there is limited research addressing this area.

Limited peer-reviewed research exists that evaluates the effects or relationship of mediation experience, recency of mediation practice, and frequency of mediation practice on the determination of mediation outcome. This session presents research results that will provide practicing mediators empirical information that informs a standard of practice for optimizing mediation outcome and mediator effectiveness.

Ethics credit: .5

Politics, Policy & Progress: How Mediators Can Save Our Country - One City at a Time, One Relationship at a Time.

Saturday Plenary Session
Saturday, March 2 8:45 - 9:30 AM
Malachite Showroom

Session Description:

We need mediators to lead in our cities and communities. Positional discourse is the root cause for failures and frustrations with leadership. Policy should be guided by the same principles of recognition and empowerment we use to solve complex disputes. We can’t keep this secret any longer. Now is the time for mediators to step up. What are you going to do?

Avoid Financial Errors in Mediated Divorce Settlements

Session J
Saturday, March 2 9:45 - 11:00 AM
Bel-Air I-III

Session Description:

This presentation will provide an overview of common financial mistakes to avoid in family mediation. In particular, we will provide an overview of common errors when dividing defined contribution retirement plans, defined benefit retirement plans, real estate, stocks, and brokerage accounts. We will also discuss tools to help litigants emotionally cope with financial issues in divorce matters.

Multi-Party Facilitation: We're Going to Need a Bigger Table

Session K
Saturday, March 2 9:45 - 11:00 AM
Bel-Air IV-VI

Session Description:

Mediation has historically been taught as a facilitated negotiation between two parties. But what happens to the symmetry and the process of this trusted form of dispute resolution when the number of parties, issues, and interests multiplies? Is the facilitator still acting within the ethical bounds of neutrality and confidentiality? In this session, Joey Cope draws parallels and departures from what you know about mediation to practical techniques you can use in multi-party facilitation. In a world that is choosing affiliation identity over interest identity, mediators can play an increasingly important role in negotiating and effecting significant societal cooperation.

Ethics credit: .25

The Best Kept Secret: 3 Essential Keys that Enhance Your Mediation and Improve Your Health!

Session L
Saturday, March 2 9:45 - 11:00 AM
Mayfair

Session Description:

As a mediator, you’re required to be fully present, often working long hours helping guide parties to effective resolution. This can drain your energy, challenging your focus, objectivity, and patience at the 11th hour. In this session learn how to 1) reduce your stress on the job via intelligent energy management, leaving even a long mediation feeling energized; 2) consistently stay emotionally detached from the parties’ issues for the duration of the mediation, removing obstacles to bias; and 3) intuitively identify and effectively articulate what’s at the heart of the conflict via specific social-emotional intelligence skills, guiding parties to shift from stuck to moving forward toward resolution.

Ethics credit: .75

Cultural Diversity in Mediation

Saturday, March 2 11:15 AM - 12:15 PM
Malachite Showroom

Session Description:

Lis Bulmash will lead a discussion on how to effectively manage and navigate cultural differences at the mediation table. This panel will explore how to identify differences among the parties at the table. These broad differences can include sexual orientation, culture, religion, political affiliation, economic status, and gender. This discussion will delve into how to manage these differences.

Ethics credit: .25