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Less Expensive Way to Handle Bankruptcy Cases Available Through Thomas T. Glover Mediation Program

April 10, 2012

Overview

The first bankruptcy mediation cases in Western Washington are now underway through the newly created Honorable Thomas T. Glover Mediation Program. This court-sponsored mediation program is a unique offering that will allow more people to have access to mediation than before.

Since the program started on December 1, 2011, 35 mediators, both seasoned bankruptcy attorneys and other professionals, have completed court-sponsored mediation training and six mediations are now underway.

"We are excited to be able to offer a mediation option to all bankruptcy litigants," said Gina Zadra Walton, the Honorable Thomas T. Glover Mediation Program staff administrator. "Our mediators bring a breadth of experience to the Program and are a tremendous resource."

The formation of the program is the result of the recommendation of an executive committee formed by the United States Bankruptcy Court for the Western District of Washington. The committee recommended the development of the program after extensive research and discussion. The executive committee is comprised of respected attorneys: John Rizzardi, Cairncross & Hempelmann, Chair; Yousef Arefi-Afshar, Cairncross & Hempelmann; Terry Donahue, Eisenhower Carlson, P.L.L.C.; Gloria Nagler, Nagler & Malaier, P.S.; and Larry Ream, Schwabe, Williamson & Wyatt.

According to Walton, the purpose of mediation is to help individuals find a way to resolve legal issues or adversary proceedings without having to go to trial. Mediation can generally help settle disputes more quickly and be a less expensive route than litigation. It can also make an already extremely stressful time in a person's life a bit less stressful. "Mediation provides a forum for dispute resolution that is less formal and often allows for more negotiation than a court hearing," she added.

The cost of the mediation offered by the program is $500 per side. The fee goes directly to the assigned mediator in exchange for six hours of services. Additional time, if needed, is provided at an hourly fee with the consent of the parties. As a condition of participation in the program, each mediator is obligated to provide two pro bono mediations per year.

Sponsorships from law firms, such as Schwabe, Williamson & Wyatt, have helped make the program possible. The inaugural quarterly meeting of panel members will meet in Schwabe, Williamson & Wyatt's donated conference rooms this summer. Schwabe has also developed and will maintain a resource extranet for panel members and is one of several firms to make its conference rooms available to solo practitioners who participate in the program.

The executive committee recommended the program be named after the Honorable Thomas T. Glover, the now retired and well-known bankruptcy judge for the Western District of Washington's United States Bankruptcy Court. Judge Glover mediated a large number of disputes in the district and has a long-standing reputation as an excellent settlement judge.

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