We have recently encountered an interesting model for a hybrid dispute resolution process. It resulted from discussions with two family law attorneys who were motivated, along with their clients, to try hard to achieve a facilitated settlement, while avoiding the use of public trial in court, in any event.
The parties engaged both of the principals of LDRC to work on the case. They agreed to have their lawyers begin by informally presenting the essential agreed and disputed “facts” to one of us for an evaluation of strengths and weaknesses, followed by mediation. Failing settlement, the parties would then present the key disputed facts to the other LDRC principal, as an arbitrator, to decide and settle the key points presumed to be the root of the parties’ impasse. In the interim, the principals would not discuss the case with each other, at all.
With these key facts no longer at issue, the parties would return to work with both principals, now as co-mediators, bringing all perspectives possible into the mediation room, or quite likely, rooms (the mediators “shuttling” between each party-lawyer team). In the absence of resolution, the mediators would change hats, and simply decide the case as arbitrators.
We believe that this promises an efficient, fair and final process.