Alternative Dispute Resolution in a Bankruptcy Court: The Mediation Program in the Southern District of California
Steven Hartwell and Gordon Bermant. Federal Judicial Center, 1988.
Study looking at judge and attorney attitudes toward the mediation program, including whether mediation saved their clients time and money.
Interviewed judges, court clerk, mediators, and lawyers. Examined case files of all cases sent to mediation over 15 months.
The program was voluntary, with cases referred by the judge. Mediators were volunteers who were experienced bankruptcy attorneys with no mediation training; attorneys chose the mediator. The program had been newly established at the time of the study. The mediation process used was evaluative, with parties present only at the opening statement.
Attorneys believed that mediation saved their and their clients' time and saved their clients money. The mediation program was found to move proceedings off the pretrial status conference calendars. Cases attorneys thought to be amenable to mediation were those involving small amounts of money, cases with limited issues that dealt with fact, and cases in which extensive discovery had not yet been done.