Mediation in Central Virginia

Richard D. Balnave (left), Edward B. Lowry and Robyn Jackson

On December 13, 2017, Edward B. Lowry, Richard D. Balnave and Robyn Jackson spoke about the mediation process and how it helps resolve differences in a way more effective than that of the court.  Check out their impressive credentials below and listen to a podcast of their presentations and the Q&A afterward.  SSV board member Bonnie Brewer moderated the forum.

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Edward B. Lowry engages in a statewide commercial litigation practice. He has been with the law firm of Michie-Hamlett since 1971. His litigation experience includes business torts, construction law, securities arbitration, employment, contract, real estate and banking laws. He is a fellow of the International Academy of Trial Lawyers, the American Bar Foundation and the Virginia Law Foundation. He has been president of the Virginia State Bar and the Charlottesville Albemarle Bar Associations. Ed was a member of the Adjunct Faculty at the University of Virginia School of Law where he taught a course in trial advocacy until 2013. Ed has participated in many meditations both as mediator and attorney for parties. He virtually always recommends mediation to his clients as it provides an opportunity for clients to resolve disputes without the uncertainty and expense of litigation.

Richard D. Balnave came to the University of Virginia Law School in 1984 to direct the Family Law Clinic following eight years of practice in Pennsylvania.  An expert in the areas of domestic relations and children’s law, he served on the board of governors of the Family Law Section of the Virginia State Bar and the Council of Domestic Relations Section of the Virginia Bar Association. He has lectured to Virginia circuit and district court judges and the Virginia Court of Appeals about issues in Virginia domestic relations law. Richard is a past president of the board of the Charlottesville-Albemarle Legal Aid Society and a former board member of the Charlottesville Albemarle Bar Association. He has assisted the Virginia General Assembly studies concerning child support guidelines and  mediation of child custody disputes.

Robyn Jackson is the founder of The Civility School, which teaches social skills, modern manners, and professional etiquette to all ages. The Civility School’s battle cry is “for the comfort and convenience of others.” Cultural awareness, flexibility, and empathetic intention are the keys to its method. Robyn’s background in teaching, counseling, and mediation combine to create a deep treatment of the often superficial world of etiquette. Robyn lives in Charlottesville with her husband, Brian, and their three sons.

Program Summary

“Mediation in Central Virginia” was the topic. Ed Lowry, an attorney with MichieHamlett, virtually always recommends mediation to his clients as it provides an opportunity for clients to resolve disputes without the uncertainty and expense of litigation. Richard Balnave, UVA Law school, an expert in the areas of domestic relations and children’s law, has assisted the Virginia General Assembly studies concerning child support guidelines and mediation of child custody disputes. Robyn Jackson is the founder of The Civility School, which teaches social skills, modern manners, and professional etiquette to all ages. The Civility School’s battle cry is “for the comfort and convenience of others.”

Although mediation is a voluntary process, a judge can order the parties to go to a mediation center to learn about the process, and then after they have learned what mediation is and how it differs from court, they are asked if they choose to stay or would they prefer to go back to court. In mediation, the participants sit in a private room with two mediators where what they say remains private, unlike the court situation that is open to the public and law enforcement, and all of their business becomes public information.

The percentage of couples who achieve agreement in mediation is much higher than the percentage of those who achieve agreement prior to the end of a court case. People report that they feel like they were finally able to say what was on their mind, and also they better understand what the concerns were of the other party.

Other major advantages of mediation as compared to the court process relate to time and money. Whereas it may take months or years to resolve an issue through the courts, mediation can provide a resolution in a single day. The impact on costs to the participants is obvious. In earlier times, the only options were court and arbitration. Arbitration is litigation on a private basis. You hire an arbitrator and that person makes the decision, but this process—like court—is horribly expensive. There are at least three costs to litigation. The economic cost can be withering if it is long and complicated litigation. The second is opportunity costs—the parties are spending hours and hours with their lawyers and others when they could be spending their time on things they want to do. The third are the emotional costs—it is very trying and exhausting to go through litigation.

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