Brooklyn Bar Association CLE provides mediation tools for litigators

April 20, 2023 Rob Abruzzese
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The Brooklyn Bar Association (BBA) hosted a virtual continuing legal education (CLE) seminar over Zoom on Wednesday night, titled “Mediation Tools for Litigators.”

Attorneys Antoinette Delruelle and Michelle Exline Minovi led the two-hour session, during which BBA members earned two CLE credits — one in law practice management and one in legal skills.

Randi Karmel, chair of the Alternative Dispute Resolution Committee at the BBA, introduced the presenters, and said, “Our two presenters will teach us a key mediation tool that can be used in our everyday work as attorneys. Mediation is a process that requires constant learning and working on finding common ground.”

The seminar aimed to address conflict traps that attorneys often face, where neither side feels heard or understood.

“The learning objective is to teach looping, which is called active listening. We really want people to be present and active in this CLE,” Delruelle said. “We do breakout rooms and we ask you to participate. We’re also going to teach better understanding of a person’s view, and how to break through the conflict trap.”

Antoinette Delruelle, an attorney since 1994 and a mediator and collaborative attorney since 2009, has extensive experience in mediation training and has been involved in various New York City court mediation programs. She served as president of the Family and Divorce Mediation Council of Greater New York from 2014 to 2016 and is a member of the statewide ADR Advisory Committee created by former Chief Judge DiFiore in April 2018.

Michelle Exline Minovi has over 12 years of family law experience and is a skilled divorce and family mediator. She has represented low-income and Spanish-speaking immigrant clients in complex matrimonial cases involving domestic violence. As a mediator, Michelle values both the process and the outcome. She is a board member of the Family and Divorce Mediation Council of Greater New York and a member of the New York State Council on Divorce Mediation.

Alternative dispute resolution (ADR) encompasses various methods for resolving disputes without a trial, including mediation, arbitration, and neutral evaluation. These processes are generally confidential, less formal, and less stressful than traditional court proceedings. ADR often results in cost savings and faster settlements.

The New York State Unified Court System provides free or reduced-fee mediation and other ADR services for family law, general civil, and commercial law disputes. These services can be accessed in many courthouses and through Community Dispute Resolution Centers in Brooklyn and the rest of the state.

Arbitration involves a neutral person, called an “arbitrator,” who hears arguments and evidence from both sides before deciding the outcome. Collaborative law is a problem-solving process for divorcing parties and their lawyers to resolve disputes without litigation.

Mediation uses a neutral person, called a “mediator,” to help parties reach a mutually acceptable resolution. Neutral evaluation involves a subject-matter expert who offers evaluations of likely court outcomes to promote settlement.

Parenting coordination assists high-conflict parents in carrying out their parenting plan, while restorative justice addresses incidents of harm or disputes by identifying and addressing impacts, needs, and obligations. Settlement conferencing, special master appointments, and summary jury trials are other ADR processes that can help parties resolve their disputes.

The BBA is organizing a special weekend CLE event on Saturday and Sunday, April 22-23, at the Fort Hamilton Army Base in Bay Ridge. Esteemed speakers such as Kaylin Whittingham, Christina Golkin, Hon. Frank Seddio, Hon. Joseph Maltese, Hon. Barry Kamins, Prof. Burt Lipshie, Roger Adler, David Bensinger, Hon. John Ingram, and Hon. Jeffrey Sunshine will be in attendance.

Participants can enjoy a tour of the Military Museum, as well as breakfast and lunch on both days. The two-day program offers a total of 12 CLE credits, half of the total required for attorneys over a two-year period.

On Tuesday, April 25, the BBA has planned two events: a Judicial Sitdown with Justice Jeffrey Sunshine at 1 p.m., providing members a chance to learn about the judge’s life and career and ask questions in an intimate setting. Later, at 6 p.m., the BBA, in collaboration with the Administrative Judicial Institute (AJI) at the Office of Administrative Trials and Hearings (OATH), will present “Adjudicating Cases at OATH: The City’s Independent Administrative Law Court.”

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