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Bar News - November 23, 2007


Letter to Mediators Describes New Rule 170 ADR Program


Revisions to Rule 170, which will allow for paid as well as voluntary ADR services in the Superior Court, have been adopted on a temporary basis by the New Hampshire Supreme Court. The courtís action follows extensive discussion over the past several months with Bar leaders and practitioners about the most effective way to make ADR services accessible and affordable for citizens statewide. The temporary rule, available at www.courts.state.nh.us, is effective January 1, 2008, at which time participation in the ADR program will be mandatory in all 10 counties. 

           

ďThis is a very big deal and I think it will produce dividends,Ē Chief Justice John T. Broderick Jr. said in a November 13 briefing with Bar leadership and mediators who have worked with him, Senior Associate Justice Linda S. Dalianis and Attorney Karen J.  Borgstrom, director of Office of Mediation and Arbitration, to develop the revised program.

           

The Chief Justice urged those lawyers to encourage their colleagues in the Bar to participate in the ADR program, by signing up as ADR professionals. Participating in that discussion were NH Bar President Eleanor W. Dahar and Attorneys Bruce W. Felmly; Nicholas Burke; Melinda Gehris; James C. Wheat; Ellen L. Arnold;  Russell F. Hilliard; William A. Mulvey Jr. and Michael M. Lonergan. Attorneys Ronald L. Snow and NH Trial Lawyers Association president Christopher J. Seufert have also been active in discussions and plans for the new Rule 170 program.

           

Borgstrom is now recruiting both paid and volunteer ADR professionals for the court program. The rostering fee for paid-mediators, which will help support the ADR office, is $350. Volunteers will not be charged a rostering fee. The following is a letter, signed by Broderick, Borgstrom, Dahar and Superior Court Chief Justice Robert J. Lynn, sent to all lawyers on the existing roster of volunteer ADR professionals which details the new Rule 170 program, how to sign up and what the new assignment provisions will be:

           

We are writing to introduce you to the new and revised Rule 170 program, effective January 1, 2008, that will combine the court systemís successful volunteer program with a new feature that will permit ADR professionals to be paid market rate for their services in appropriate cases. We are excited about this opportunity to both continue the New Hampshire Barís great tradition of volunteer service and generate the financial resources the Judicial Branch needs to make mediation and arbitration services more accessible and affordable to the citizens of our state. All of us are very grateful for your service in the past as a volunteer mediator and we hope that you will continue your involvement in the program, either as a volunteer or as a paid ADR professional.

           

The development of this new plan follows extensive review of the existing Rule 170 program, begun more than a year ago by a committee of judges and lawyers chaired by Senior Associate Supreme Court Justice Linda S. Dalianis. Over the past few months, many other professionals familiar with the objectives of the Rule 170 program have joined in the discussion, including practitioners, Superior Court judges and clerks, Bar Association officers, members of the Board of Governors, the ADR Section and the Committee on Cooperation with the Courts, as well as officers of the New Hampshire Trial Lawyers Association.

            The result of this collaborative effort is the new Rule 170 program which includes the following provisions:

  • As of January 1, 2008, participation in the ADR program will be mandatory in all 10 counties.
  • The new Judicial Branch Office of Mediation and Arbitration (OMA) will provide central administration, oversight and accountability for all ADR programs statewide and track settlement rates.
  • Bar members can continue in the program as volunteers or they can sign up for inclusion on a list of ADR professionals who will be paid a market rate for services, by the parties, in appropriate cases.
  • Parties and counsel choose their own ADR professional, either from the court lists or privately.

           

During the 2007 legislative session, lawmakers approved a one-time appropriation of $137, 500 to launch the Office of Mediation and Arbitration, which opened on July 1. The legislatureís expectation is that after the first year, the office will be self-funded. As a result, we are instituting a $350.00 annual rostering fee for those ADR professionals who want to have their name and biographical information included on the courtís list of qualified ADR professionals who will be paid a market rate for their services. If you register as a paid mediator, you can be selected by litigants who want to hire a paid mediator in appropriate cases and your name will be available both online and in hard copy at each courthouse for those outside the system who want to hire a paid mediator.

           

Volunteer mediators only are not required to pay the rostering fee for inclusion of their name and biography on the courtís list of qualified volunteers, which will also be available online and in hard copy. In cases with volunteer mediators, parties on each side will pay a $50.00 transaction fee to the court to support the ADR office (that fee can be waived in certain cases).

           

We are asking that you let us know as soon as possible whether you want to be a volunteer or paid mediator, or both. A sign-up sheet and biography form are enclosed for you to return to us as soon as possible. If you are already on the courtís list of volunteer mediators, you will be eligible for the eight-hour advanced refresher training, at no cost, which will also qualify for CLE credit. To remain on the courtís list of volunteer mediators, you must take this training within one year. If you want to be listed as a paid mediator, we ask that you forward a check for $350.00 payable to the Office of Mediation and Arbitration.

           

During the next month, we plan to hold a brown bag lunch at each Superior Court location to meet with ADR professionals to discuss the details of the new Rule 170 program.  A schedule is enclosed and we ask that you contact Lynda Troy at the Office of Mediation and Arbitration to let us know if you will be able to attend one of these sessions. Lynda can be reached at: 603-271-6418 ext 303.

           

Please accept our sincere thanks for your generosity in working as a volunteer mediator and we hope that you will continue to join with us in this important effort. We need your assistance to make this new program a success.

           

We look forward to hearing from you.

 

Sincerely,

John T. Broderick Jr., Chief Justice, NH Supreme Court    

Robert J. Lynn, Chief Justice, NH Superior Court 

Karen J. Borgstrom, Director, Office of Mediation and Arbitration                  

Eleanor Dahar, President, New Hampshire Bar Association

 

 

Brown Bag Luncheon Court Location/Dates

Hillsborough Superior South (Nashua)                  Tuesday, December 4

Hillsborough Superior North (Manchester)             Wednesday, December 5

Merrimack Superior        (Concord)                      Thursday, December 6

Belknap Superior (Laconia)                                 Friday, December 7

Grafton Superior (No. Haverhill)                            Wednesday, December 12

Coos Superior (Lancaster)                                  Thursday, December 13

Strafford Superior (Dover)                                    Friday, December 14

Cheshire Superior (Keene)                                  Monday, December 17

Sullivan Superior (Newport)                                 Tuesday, December 18

Rockingham Superior (Brentwood)                       Wednesday, December 19

Carroll Superior (Ossipee)                                   Thursday, December 20

               

 

 

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