Arizona State University (ASU) – Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law
Ohio State Journal on Dispute Resolution, Vol. 26, Nos. 2-3, p. 271, 2011
The present Article reports the findings of an empirical study that provides a rare look at lawyers’ views of several models of judicial settlement conferences and mediation, based on their experience with the procedures in federal court. The findings show that lawyers tended to view mediation with staff mediators more favorably than mediation with volunteer mediators and than both types of judicial settlement conferences. Lawyers thought that settlement conferences with judges not assigned to the case raised substantially fewer concerns than settlement conferences with judges assigned to the case, while having most of the same benefits. Mediation with volunteer mediators presented a mixed picture relative to both judicial settlement conference models. The findings, while probably influenced in part by how the models were implemented, reflect inherent structural differences among the models, including the neutrals’ decision-making role and closeness to the trial judge and the proportion of their work life spent facilitating settlement. Components of process quality that emerge from model codes of conduct and standards for judges and mediators, as well as issues that commentators have raised about the models, are discussed. The article discusses the implications of the findings of this and other empirical research for courts’ and parties’ choices among settlement procedure models.