NMMA Fall 2019 Newsletter

IT’S ANNUAL MEETING TIME!

The Association will hold its Annual Meeting on November 15, 2019, in Albuquerque.  The time will be from 9 a.m. until 12:00 Noon.  We will meet at 6767 Academy Road NE., ABQ (same location as last year.  We have a full morning of business, including elections so please plan to participate or ask the Secretary for an Absentee or Proxy vote privileges.

STATE ADR MEETING

The Risk Management Division of the State GSD is held its Statewide Meeting for its Volunteer Mediators on October 9 and 10, 2019 in Santa Fe.  The Association was present to offer Information to the Attendees about the Association, ADR opportunities, and Membership.  We developed booth graphics as well as a table cloth to use as we search to get our message out to the general public, legislators and other mediators.

WE NEED YOU!

As Ted mentioned in his Letter, we need Officers, Board Members and Regional Representatives for 2020 and beyond.  For information about serving in any office, contact Ted at 575-639-4254 or ted@swresolution.com.  He can provide details on what the role requirements are.

MODRIA Pilot Program Update

As previously mentioned, the State AOC launch of the Online Mediation Tool began in late spring 2019.  Through August 2019, 1.713 cases were eligible for the program.  The District Courts in the Pilot referred only 110 to Online Mediation.  Of these, only 1 Mediation was in progress and the others were either ended due to No response by either party or response was with either party or nothing has progressed.  After a certain time, the case is referred back to the court system for further action.

ELDER MEDIATION NETWORK

We are sad to report that the efforts of a Sturdy Group of Members to create the opportunity for Non-Attorney Mediators to Mediate Elder Care issues in New Mexico has been stopped.  Until such time as the Legal community in New Mexico stops the roadblocks and prevention tactics they could not proceed.  Additionally, Non-Attorney Mediators interested in being trained in Elder Care Mediation was low or non-existent.  Is the membership willing to allow this kind of activity to continue or can we resurrect and enhance the efforts of this Network?

MEMBERSHIP WEBSITE LISTINGS

Beginning with 2020 membership renewal or payments, members will have the opportunity to add their information similar to the membership form onto the website.  Information will include Contact Information and up to 3 areas of Mediation that the members specialize.  Those Professional Mediators who provide Pro-Bono will also be listed but the listing will include lesser details.  Please make sure you renew or join and remain current in your dues for this to assist in Brand awareness of your skills and services.  Check out the new members whose listing has been posted on the site as a demonstration!

UPDATED MEMBERSHIP LISTS

As you know, stuff happens.  When we change officers, stuff gets misplaced, lost or confused.  We have that issue with our most current membership lists.  We have kept these on excel sheets and have over time merged the lists for one reason or another.  Can you help us clarify you join and paid member dates?  Why do you ask? We need to clean our current and past member lists for membership recruitment and validate with our deposits who has paid for 2018 and 2019? Since our treasurer is MIA this information has been difficult to secure and work on validation.  If you can help out, please let Elena Hernandez know at ehmediator.org or 505-688-2046.

STATE ADR COMMISSION UPDATE

My apologies (this is Ted) for not providing more frequent updates on what is going on with the State ADR Commission of which I represent the Association on.  Thank you, members, for kicking me to update the membership on what is going on!

New Staff at AOC:  When I joined the Commission, it lacked Leadership participation at the State ADR Leader level.  This has since been resolved as Mateo Page, Former Magistrate Judge from Moriarity joined as the statewide Manager for ADR.  In addition, with the help of many of you, we were able to convince and coerce the legislature to change the Magistrate Court Mediation leader position from “soft money” (funded by fees only) to a Permanent fully funded position.  This position has been approved as of July 1, 2019, and applications have been received, screening is occurring, and a candidate should be named soon.  Unfortunately for NMMA, we were not part of the interview process and have been excluded from much detail on selection.

District Court Mediation Fee Structure: Based on legislation passed in 2017, the Commission was charged by the Supreme Court to explore and Initiate a Sliding fee structure for the District court Mediation System outside the “power 3” areas of Las Cruces, Santa Fe, and Albuquerque in early 2018.  A current sliding fee has either been approved by the Supreme Court for or has been reviewed and recommended for approval for those district courts. Approved are the 7th, 8th, 9th and 13th.  Pending and in final approval stages are the 4th, 5th, 6th, and 11th.  Unfortunately, the 10th and 12th have been slow to comply but encouragement from others will help compliance.  These courts are implementing changes as we write about it.  Recently a meeting of the Power 3 courts was held to discuss mediation programs in their court systems and ways/means that could be shared with the smaller courts as they look to expand mediation programs in their court.  What is next is to attempt to standardize the ADR rules statewide – a major problem from my perspective – in how, who and why things are done.  Such variance today may be problematic in consistency and transparency going forward.  From a personal standpoint, I feel the fees are too low for mediation services.  Since clients needing representation many times do not hesitate to pay handsome retainer fees, this creates a perception that mediation could be a “cheap alternative.

ODR Program Growth:  For the most part, the program has not been widely embraced by the Mediation Community or the Audience it is intended to serve.  Courts initially participating were the 2nd, 6th and 9th. Since then the program has been expanded statewide in an effort to grow faster.  An emphasis on a pilot program in the Magistrate system for the 3rd District is underway.  This will focus on Traffic violations.  Much money has been invested that may or may not have been better spent on existing needs and services surrounding ADR and Mediation.

New Mexico Court-Connected Alternative Dispute Resolution Recommendations: In a May 2019 report released in June 2019, the Staff of AOC/ADR was charged by the Supreme Court to Review the Current Landscape and Recommend how to Build a Statewide Infrastructure.  Authored by Mateo Page, Statewide Program Manager of ADR and Celina Jones, General counsel of the AOC, the report lists 10 ways to expand ADR programs statewide.  The unfortunate part is that the NMMA was minimally involved in input for the recommendations. 

Committee Work:  I have been involved with the Sliding Fee Scale and Ethics Committee but have volunteered for others that I feel may benefit the Association membership.  Additional committees active include a Communications/Marketing/Outreach Committee and Training Committee.

If you desire further information or clarification, please contact me at ted@swresolution.com or 575-639-4254.

PRESIDENTS MESSAGE

SEPTEMBER 2019

Your Association is facing a MAJOR crisis and we need your help!

Did we get your attention or is this another “Ho-hum” minute?

Having served as your President for almost two years, a position I have sincerely enjoyed and hope that all of you re-elect me to for 2020, I have to desperately ask for your help to “STEP UP” and help me in promotion of the Vision all of us have for the Mediation Community and the valuable services we provide in New Mexico.

“Why should I do this”? you may ask:

  1.  We face mounting pressure from the legal community Leadership who feel “Professional Non-Attorney” mediators have no place, no value and serve no purpose other than to provide “pro-bono” services.
  2. We have a State government that asks Professional Mediators to provide services “out of the spirit of kindness” for free in Magistrate and Risk Management programs around the state.
  3. We have a District Court system that only offers Mediation opportunities to lawyers because they only trust lawyers to provide “facilitated directive settlement agreements” which may or may not be conducted in the true spirit of “Mediated Settlement Agreements”.
  4. The State AOC “magically” found monies to work with the Non-government provider that offers legal electronic report formats to the court system to develop “MODRIA” an online Mediation system that was intended to be launched in rural “underserved” portions of the state.  The program, in its infancy, was designed to serve as a facilitation tool for debt and money due cases and will now be modified to include Traffic violations in Magistrate court due to low participation and a low number of successful case resolutions in an attempt to improve participation for the money invested.
  5. We continue to train state employees to serve as mediators within state government (at no cost to the employees), offer training for Non-state Employee Mediators (for a fee) around the state and then what happens?  No place to practice, participate or develop skill sets because of limited opportunity due to lack of court willingness to participate in Mediation or point number 3 above. Yet, we know the court system is taxed to hear all the cases in a timely, expedient manner.
  6. We have Professional, Non-Attorney Mediators who are capable, competent and willing to serve the needs of the state Court system.
  7. We have Professional, Trained, Passionate and Dedicated Mediators who specialize in areas where their background, education or passion has led them to focus, provide valuable assistance in non-adversarial solutions for affordable costs to the general population of New Mexico and other areas in this nation.
  8. We have an Association who wants to meet the needs of our existing and future clients and knows that your training, experience, and exposure to opportunities is the best solution for the State.

How did this come to pass?  An easy explanation from my point of view: 

We as the Mediation community of New Mexico took our eyes off the Purpose, Intent, Goals, Aim, Focus, Desire or whatever words you may choose to use for the Value, Intent, and Purpose of Mediation Services in New Mexico.  It is me and each of us as members of the Mediation Community who have allowed this to happen. 

I sometimes wonder why members/officers of the past are long gone from the association; in many cases, they do not even pay dues.  Did they see the future and say, “I’m out of here”! or did they choose to say “I’ve done my time” or maybe it was a clash with existing goals, directions or opportunities to advance their agenda? Could it have been warring egos?  Maybe they lived outside of the major metro areas and did not feel they could logistically participate.  Maybe it was expectations not met by the Association leadership or better yet; needs not addressed, listened to or acted up – so “I gave up” became their alibi?  Maybe “I just pay my dues, so that I can show my clients or employer I belong but am not really active”?

We currently have a board that is trying hard, staying focused and trying to get to the root cause of what we need, provide what the members want, but we need your help. Support us by offering to serve on the Board, as an Officer, a Committee Member or Regional Representative to the Board. Speak up, let us hear and see you and provide the value and benefit you seek from Alternative Dispute Resolutions in the State of New Mexico!

GET OFF THE COUCH, OUT OF YOUR DESK CHAIR AND OUT OF YOUR COMFORT ZONE AND HELP US ADDRESS WHAT IS IMPORTANT TO YOUR ASSOCIATION!

We hope to see you at the Annual Meeting.

NMMA May 2019 Newsletter

Here is the NMMA May 2019 Newsletter for your enjoyment and education.  Thank you to everyone who has participated and those in the future that will participate in our Newsletter.  We are all a community and the Board would like to extend their thanks for continuing to be part of this community!!!

Elena Hernandez, NMMA Board Secretary 

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President’s Message | March 2019

Greetings Mediation Community in New Mexico!!

I trust all your Dispute Resolutions have been interesting and afforded you and your clients to reach resolution that is meaningful and positive.

It’s been a busy 45 days for your Association Board as we wade through issues and opportunities of which I will share with you this month.  In no particular order:

  1.  The website now has the capability to accept Stripe payments seamlessly.  This proved to be much more a tedious task but it is now ready to accept payments through the website.  Check it out as well as the new look of the site if you have not done so!
  2. For over a year, I have committed myself to create an Online member directory.  We have agreed to go forward on the directory and maintain security of our site for our members.  We are beta testing data entry utilizing Board Member profiles as we speak.  We hope to be able to request data from members who wish to be listed on the site page within 30 days.  We have discussed a secure site for our paid members that contains more detail data than what would be found on the “Search for a Mediator” page that the General public searching for a mediator would/could access.  I hope to have more on this within 30 days – our goal is to ask for the specific data to be include on the public page first.
  3. Board Meetings are being held face to face in Albuquerque for 2019.  In 2018 we tried to hold monthly Conference Call/Video calls and struggled to reach quorum numbers to vote and make decisions.  Since Maggie Reynolds and I are the “Outside Albuquerque” board members we decided – we will go to ABQ and meet face to face.  I hope you will join us at these board meetings.  Our next Board Meeting is scheduled May 9 at 6:00 p.m. at Mimi’s on the I-25 South frontage road.  JOIN US!!!
  4. Open Board Seat – We currently have an Open board seat and a Vice President seat on the Board.  The board has asked that if anyone of the general membership has an interest in the Open seat(s) and is willing to serve until the next general election, please email or call ElenaMaria Hernandez at 505.688.2046 or ehmediator@email.com.  Board members must be willing to attend all board meetings and be willing to chair a committee to continue to promote the association goals and objectives.  Please let ElenaMaria know, the board would then like to schedule an interview before deciding.
  5. Board and Officers Liability Insurance was discussed at the annual meeting.  It has been researched and decided that we will not purchase this as cost and  recommendations by insurers are that this is not needed given the low annual income and liability risk to this association board in New Mexico.
  6. In the course of regular audit and review of the organization Policy, Procedures and Financial instruments it was learned that the Association had not submitted the proper Federal Income tax forms to IRS since 2009 and our 501(c) 6 nonprofit standing had been revoked since 2009.  No panic necessary, I have been working with a Pro-Bono Attorney specializing in this area and a CPA spouse (it’s great to have friends in low places!) to correct this deficiency and share with the board what will be submitted to the IRS to regain the status for final board submission approval.

This is YOUR Association as well as mine; I hope you will continue to support us as we continue to move forward to create a vibrant, active, informed and committed association. 

If you have any questions, comments or concerns, please let me know.

All the Best and until next time ……..

Letter from the NMMA President

Greetings and Happy New Year!!

“I suggest that the rumors of the death of mediation and the significant role of the traditional process mediator are greatly exaggerated” …………

This quote from an article I recently read written by Greg Rooney, an Australian, for Mediate Dot Com has me really thinking of this whole “Professional, Certified Non-Attorney Mediator vs. Lawyer” discussion of Mediation.

According to Mr. Rooney, we now live in a time where a world of connectivity and fluidity has replaced the 20th century Newtonian concepts that are linear, predictable and deterministic. We live in a world driven by the rise of the World Wide Web. We now have transparent and open data networks that are available free of charge to anyone with an Internet connection.

The biggest upheaval, according to Mr. Rooney has been the rise in the commercial value of trust over that of competitive and adversarial behaviors. The “sharing” economy relies on the willingness of users to be trustworthy and to trust each other. It is therefore essential that any conflict be dealt with in a way that preserves those trusting relationships while allowing new learnings which are an essential springboard for innovation and evolutionary breakthroughs.

We therefore require a new world order of thinking and operating in how we solve conflict. Mediators go off into the world and engage with parties at a very human level much the same as it was done in the 1980’s. They work with the uncertainties of conflict and hopefully come up with a “good enough” resolution. Rooney states, “These soft skills are now in high demand in the commercial world”.

It has left the legal profession with an identity crisis as they try to fit into this new reality. Since the 80’s the legal profession has moved from being a trusted profession based on the application of scale costs, which moderated the professions financial self-interest, to a commercial business model built on time costing to maximize dollar return through promoting (litigation finance) and extending disputes by means of adversarial culture according to Mr. Rooney. The problem, according to Mr. Rooney, is not so much the high legal fees, it is the pursuit of an adversarial approach to drive those extra fees. This keeps the clients stuck in their “conflict zone” far longer than is commercially acceptable or necessary. This has turned out to be a huge self-inflicted wound.

In response to the challenge presented by this new world order of collaboration, the legal profession has sought to rebrand itself to try and recover commercial relevance. The legal profession has sought to rebadge itself by dumping the designation “litigators” and replacing it with “Dispute Resolvers” now with lofty ideals according to Mr. Rooney. Mr. Rooney found it ironic that the long-term criticism of traditional mediation by the legal profession has been that it is to “touch-feely” and into “healing, wholeness, harmony and optimal human functioning” the very thing this the legal profession is trying to champion “Dispute Resolvers” as.

I am not sure the commercial world is buying this makeover, particularly when it is built on an adversarial solution focused culture and training that is not in harmony with modern economic drivers. I read where during the recent Global Pound Conference it was recommended that “It will be necessary to use research to ensure that if evaluative mediation becomes the norm approach, as well it should, that quality-control and ethical frameworks exist to prevent rogue Attorney mediators from making de facto determinations.”

Mr. Rooney suggests that the traditional non-evaluative “process” approach to mediation is far more in tune with the modern collaborative economy. It is an experiential approach which gives the parties time and space to step back and allow patterns to emerge. The mediators use their senses and respond to those patterns. This creates the potential for new opportunities to emerge out of the interaction that can lead to innovation and creativity. It can help repair disrupted trust which is the central foundation of the modern economy and world order. It is mediating for the emergence of the new rather than providing an “evaluation” of the parties’ respective positions in order to find an upper hand and close the gap for litigation finance.

Tomorrow we will all go off and continue the traditional process where we will try to remain present in the moment to observe the dynamics of human interaction between the parties. We will probe first and then sense and respond to the reaction and we will try to suspend attachment to memories, desires and the need to understand what is happening and will try and not be deterred by blockages and impasses. We will allow our intuition to guide us through the session rather than let the mechanical side of our brain be our master.

Mr. Rooney closes his article by suggesting to the legal community in general and the “dispute resolvers” that the answer to restoring the “value” for the legal product in the new economy is not to push aside or try to diminish the traditional mediation movement but to embrace it and welcome it as a path to acquire the necessary “soft skills” to constructively engage with the fluidity, ambiguity and complexity of the new age not necessarily taught or coached in law school.

Yes, it is true ….. The rumors of the death of mediation and the significant role of the traditional process mediator aka Professional, Certified Non-Attorney Mediators are GREATLY exaggerated!!!!

Until the next time …………..Ted Ramirez, NMMA President

NMMA Membership Survey – We need YOUR Opinion!

Dear NMMA Members, the Association Board’s goal is to make NMMA “user friendly” – to give you, the members, what you want and need from the organization.  In order to help us understand what members want and where to focus our attention, we’d really appreciate it if you’d take a minute to take our short poll regarding member benefits and activities you’d be interested in.  Go to Poll.

NMMA Welcomes New Board for 2018

WELCOME YOUR NEW OFFICERS FOR 2017-2018!

January 1st 2018 marks the first day for our newly elected Board Officers and Directors. We are all excited about the interest and enthusiasm each brings to their new roles, and expect 2018 to bring our members even more value from their association. Thank you to each one of you who has stepped up to keep NMMA going strong.

Board Officers

President- Ted Ramirez
Vice President- Shannon Driscoll
Treasurer- Holly Meyer
Secretary- Elena Hernandez

Board of Directors

Allan Highcove
Rudy Martin
Sandy Martinez
Kirstin Hyre
Maggie Reynolds
Sue Thorson
Bonnie Yoakum