Comments: A Morning In The Life Of A L.A. Superior Court Pro-Bono Mediator

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Now retired, I was a volunteer arbitrator/mediator for the Los Angeles Superior (and former Municipal) Courts for 22 years. To hear the current complaints about lack of respect is nothing new and it is not surprising to hear that nothing substantial has been done to correct the situation. One of the biggest abusers of the system was the insurance carriers. I can't tell you how many times I heard insurance representative say why should we pay mediators to help us resolve our claims when we can get the service free. If you were successful in getting matters settled, you could be sure you were on the carriers list of "approved" mediators. But they were very blunt is stating they would not consider retaining a volunteer mediator for any substantial case. It was for that reason I started refusing to provide pro bono services to several large insurance carriers, just as I did for several "plaintiffs mills". I recommend that experienced mediators be selective in the pro bono cases they accept and leave certain carriers and plaintiffs firm for inexperienced new mediators to gain expertise.

Nanci McMurray, Redondo Beach CA     08/07/07
I concur. I am committed to providing quality mediation services through the LA Superior Court and I am gratified to have been named one of their top Mediators for 2006, but I am struggling to continue to do so without any compensation whatsoever. Unfortunately, the hard truth is that the Court-ordered mediation services are not being taken as the serious process that they represent, whether that is because cases are forced to mediate before they are ripe for settlement or because there is an implication of (free = not worth anything). Requiring the parties to pay a minimal fee does not preclude offering true pro bono mediation where there is a financial need. Neither does it interfere with the DRPA Grant (which only requires that services be offered on a basis that takes into account true financial need).

Robert Wrede, Los Angeles CA   08/02/07
fair pay for a fair day's work
I thoroughly concur with the notion people respect what they pay for. There is no rational justification for sloughing performance of tasks our judicial system should perform off onto well-intentioned, charitably inclined volunteers.