Tuesday, September 8, 2009

More on foreclosure mediations

What happens when you invite people to a party, but no one shows up?

This is happening with foreclosure mediations in the Dayton area. According to an article in the Dayton Daily News (here), of the 62 cases referred to mediation in Montgomery County, 40 homeowners failed to respond. Seven were settled, 13 are pending, and 2 were canceled.

What does this mean when almost 65% of the folks don't show up? And I think most people would conclude that mediation of foreclosure actions is designed to help the homeowners.

Similarly, in Franklin County, the administrator for its Foreclosure Mediation project is that "30 percent" of the completed mediations are keeping their homes.

In Nevada, after expecting 1,250 and 1,500 homeowners a month flocking to a foreclosure mediation program, only 10 homeowners requested mediation--during a six week period. Click here for the article.

My initial thought is that mediators need to educate homeowners about the benefits of mediation. But it may also be that the mediators aren't able to get in contact with the borrower to talk with them in the first place. Also, it may be the the borrower identifies the situation as hopeless and would rather turn resources toward starting over instead of trying to maintain what is perceived to be an impossible situation.

Regardless, mediation can be a very effective tool in helping lenders and borrowers come together and see if a workable solution exists.

Green Thinking

Andrew Winston writes in his management blog for Harvard Business about businesses like Toyota who were thinking "green" way back in the '90s when oil was at $17.00 a barrel.

Going "green"--taking steps to enhance and protect the environment--is very popular these days. My wife and I were registering for baby necessities yesterday and I was amazed at the number of baby products that were "green." I was also amazed at the number of books that are published to read to one's kid about the environment, ecology, and doing what one can to save the environment.

What about the ADR profession? Are professionals in the ADR community thinking "green"? I'm looking for input on this question because I don't have the answers. I'm thinking of more than replacing light bulbs and turning down (or up) the thermostat. What should we, as ADR professionals, be doing to go and think green? Should we? I'd like to hear from you.

Being you

How many times have we heard someone say (or that we've said), "Oh, that's just the way that I am." We usually say that when trying to explain behaviors that are not productive (or some would say annoying).

Marshall Goldsmith, blogging for Harvard Business Publishing, asks the question, "Do You Have an Excessive Need to Be Yourself?" The post can be found here.

Goldsmith's analysis, and questioning that he provided to a CEO, are terrific for mediators and ADR professionals. Part of our goal, in my opinion, is to help lead people from one place to another. This often means candid and uncomfortable conversations. But those conversations are necessary.

So the next time that we say, "Oh, that's just the way that I am," let's ask ourselves not only why are we that way, but also, what effect does our behavior have on other people? What effect do we have on people by focusing on ME instead of THEM?

ADR and the Recession

An interesting article in today's Wall Street Journal got me thinking.

What effect is the recession having on the mediation-arbitration-alternative dispute resolution markets?

The reporting by Paulo Prada and Corey Dade analyzes funding cuts in the Georgia state court system. According to the authors, the court system's funding was cut by almost 15% last year, and future cuts are expected. One state judge is reported to have said that temporary hearings (for family custody cases) are now taking 60 days to reach instead of the usual "few weeks at most."

What does this mean for ADR professionals? I'd suggest it means opportunities.

It seems that we're told from day one in our training, and almost all of us market ourselves and the ADR process as a methodology that is cheaper, more efficient, faster, and more creative than the court system.

Now is our opportunity to prove that what we say in our training and marketing materials is true.

As ADR professionals, don't we have an opportunity--and perhaps an obligation--to assist those who are trying to access the court system to help them resolve their disputes in a less expensive, more efficient, and quicker way instead of waiting for overworked and understaffed courts to reach the case? Why can't we step in early and help folks discuss and structure the temporary orders in family cases? Why can't we help parties who are in the midst of a discovery dispute? Why can't we help the parties to resolve all of conflicts that occur during litigation, instead of just focusing on the final resolution of the entire case?

I'd like to know your thoughts.