WHY CHOOSE ADR? WHY CHOOSE MATADOR?
PROCESS DRIVES OUTCOMES
"Any jackass can kick down a barn, but it takes a good carpenter to build one."
Former Speaker of the House of Representatives, Sam Rayburn (TX)
Close to What Matters Most... YOU
Convenience NOT Commutes...
In addition to convenient locations in Chicago, and the ability to confer via Zoom, I can also work with you in-person from any of the following Chicagoloand locations:
Suburban Cook County
Suburban DuPage County
Suburban Lake County
Why ADR with Matador?
In a world full of Nails, sometimes you need a Hammer…
The use of Alternative Dispute Resolution processes in family law matters has grown significantly over the last decade. Increasingly, spouses and parents have come to appreciate the financial, emotional and psychological damage and destruction that were the inevitable by-products of litigation. They and their attorneys also came to appreciate the discretion, efficiency, and creativity that ADR processes could provide relative to financial and child-related disputes. That dynamic growth further accelerated during the last three years, since the pandemic, when courthouses were often closed (physically). Without customary access to the Courthouse, or facing a Court-calendar that was extremely strained, attorneys and their clients turned to ADR to an even larger degree.
For some time, there have been, and still are, a number of good (and even great) options for mediating and arbitrating domestic relations cases in the Chicagoland area. Having been a practitioner in complex, high-conflict and high net worth cases, I know what and who those options are and I know the unique and differentiating attributes, approaches and skill sets of those ADR neutrals and their respective processes. I have nothing negative or critical to say about any of those professionals, because they have my respect as competent, compassionate people of good will who are dedicated to defusing often difficult and toxic situations without the corrosive effect of litigation.
I also know that every case, every issue, every client, and every attorney are different, and that one size definitely does not fit all. The ability to create and maintain trust between spouses, parents and other parties is vital. The establishment of a transparent process with information sharing that serves the goals and interests of clients is essential. Relatedly, the relationship between opposing counsel in an ADR case is no less mission critical than the substance of what those attorneys “do” across the conference room table or via Zoom. And the relationship between the attorneys, individually and jointly, and the mediator or arbitrator is no less critical.
After over 15 years in the courtrooms of Cook, DuPage and Lake counties, I developed a reputation as a zealous, skilled litigator and advocate. I also managed to earn the respect and trust of the Judges in front of whom I appeared, as well as my opposing counsel. During that time, I came to believe that what often drove needless conflict in litigation and avoidable stalemate in mediation were less the substantive disputed issues between the parties and more a failure (in whole or in part) of the processes involved and the approaches taken within each of them. Those failures were not merely individual, but systemic to the established processes. In developing my own approach to ADR, I thoughtfully and deliberately fashioned an outline for a process that would avoid, or at least mitigate, many of those pitfalls while maintaining flexibility for tackling the unique issues and personalities of each case. I also was mindful of designing a process on the front-end to meet the many criticisms that I often heard (and sometimes shared) of the ADR process.
In medicine, the term “iatrogenic” refers to the circumstance when a medical treatment or procedure used to address a disease produces its own illness or disease. In divorce and custody cases, the legal equivalent of the iatrogenic effect abounds. It is the obligation, in my view, of attorneys, Judges and ADR neutrals to operate pursuant to a variation on the doctor’s Hippocratic oath to “first, do no harm.” Divorce and family law conflicts are already and always charged with deep-seated emotional issues. They are inevitably messy and invariably complicated. Harm in domestic relations matters can take many forms and can show itself in many ways, explicitly and implicitly. Very few people exit the family law process (in either mediation or litigation) feeling good about it. Often times they feel resentment, betrayal, and a sense of not being heard, understood or appreciated. Other times they regret the cost, the time expended, and the impact upon themselves, their children, and the relationship with the person they once loved (and often still love on some level).
Ultimately, I wish for every client the thing that I found for myself, in my own amicable divorce from a fellow divorce lawyer almost a decade ago: a sensible, sane and sober process that permits for full expression of feelings, thoughts and ideas in a safe setting; and, a process that creates mutual satisfaction and shared advantage where possible. My personal and professional experiences have led me to a point where I can galvanize and utilize the best of my litigation, negotiation and communication experience over the last 15+ years as a lawyer and the best of my interpersonal abilities as a collaborative and cooperative divorced coparent of almost 10 years.
About Alternative Dispute Resolution Processes
Practical. Creative. Doable and Durable Results.
The ADR processes summarized below all occur outside of the courtroom. They take place at agreed upon dates and times and are conducted in agreed to locations where privacy and comfort can be maintained. The "rules of engagement" for each process are all agreed upon in advance by the participant spouses so that there are no surprises regarding what will take place, when it will take place, or how it will take place. These features all provide divorcing spouses with flexibility, privacy, and control over their dissolution of marriage process. To varying degrees, these processes are driven by a desire to resolve the spouses' disputes as amicably as possible, while meeting their individual and shared goals and interests and safeguarding the well-being of their children without the damaging and toxic effects of litigation. In many, if not most, instances, ADR processes can be less costly financially and can be concluded more swiftly than traditional litigation. As a general matter, they are each thoughtfully designed to maximize efficiency, efficacy, and privacy. Although each process differs in material ways, ADR as a whole permits for the discrete resolution of one of the most private, personal and emotional of matters -- the end of a marriage.
Mediation - a neutral professional helps spouses work toward resolution of their divorce and related issues either with the assistance of an attorney or without. Instead of imposing a "top-down" resolution, the mediator helps to engage the parties in crafting workable and durable solutions for themselves. Mediations can be conducted from a Facilitative, Evaluative or Transformative approach. In a Facilitative mediation - the neutral primarily operates as a catalyst for self-resolution by the parties without making recommendations. Evaluative mediations typically involve some degree of substantive assessment of claims and arguments by the neutral. A Transformative mediation is oriented around fostering the resolution of conflict through the aiding spouses in the acquisition of skills needed to create lasting, constructive change. Creative mediations will draw upon all three approaches when needed and advisable.
Arbitration - a neutral professional listens to arguments and claims, reviews evidence, and renders a binding decision. Unlike mediation, spouses are not directly responsible for reaching their agreements, outcomes, and resolution. Although the rules of the arbitration process must be agreed upon in advance, the parties cede decision-making authority to the neutral. In many ways, arbitration is somewhat akin to "private litigation." Evidence, discovery and other legal rules all can be part of the process.
Med-Arb - a hybrid process involving the attempted mediation of a matter prior to proceeding to the advancing of claims and arguments via evidence in arbitration. In the event of impasse during mediation, the matter is then resolved via arbitration.
Arb-Med - another hybrid process but unliked Med-Arb, the matter is arbitrated first. However, to facilitate self-determination and party-driven resolution, the binding decision of the arbitrator is held from the parties in order to provide them with an opportunity for the successful mediation of their issues before the decision is rendered.