Since the early 1990s, Joseph Stine has been a leading advocate for the effective use of ADR Services by attorneys. Joe founded the ADR Section of the North County Bar Association (NCBA) and has organized scores of programs to educate attorneys on ADR. A dozen of his articles on effective and timely use of mediation have been published in NCBA monthly magazine. Joseph has also participated in the development of the mediation referral program that is used by the San Diego Superior Court to settle thousands of civil cases each year.
Over the last two decades, attorneys have witnessed a revolution in the customary manner of resolving common civil disputes. Aggressive litigation with an eye on eventual resolution by trial used to be the norm. Now trials have become the exception with the mainstreaming of mediation and other settlement facilitation processes.
California courts have embraced the use of alternative dispute solution (ADR) for a wide variety of civil disputes. Mediation and arbitration are the most frequently employed forms of ADR. In many cases, ADR processes can settle or otherwise resolve disputes in a manner that is more satisfying and less expensive than going to trial.
Parties need to explore creative alternatives to trial. Residential real estate sales agreements and many business contracts provide that parties must attempt to settle their differences through mediation before filing a lawsuit. Some California statutes, including those pertaining to HOA disputes, require that an offer of some form of ADR process be made before resorting to the courts. Most North County individuals and small businesses are unable to afford the costs commonly associated with trial.
I have worked as a mediator to assist attorneys with settling hundreds of civil cases. Every case presents different settlement challenges. In some cases, emotional hostility between the parties calls for a patient, facilitative dialogue before serious discussion of settlement options. In other cases, the conflict calls for detailed questioning of counsel about the applicable law and evaluation of the risks of going to trial.
I have multiple templates that can be used in memorializing the terms of settlements. If no settlement is reached at the session, follow-up phone calls to each counsel are routinely made to further explore options for resolution. In short, I take a persistent “can do” attitude toward settlement and do not cease efforts to resolve the dispute unless parties refuse to participate in further negotiation.
Arbitration / Hearing Officer Services
Finally, I also am experienced in other forms of ADR. When parties are unable to settle, I can provide them with a fair, informal hearing and render a legally supportable arbitration award. When attorneys are entrenched in a discovery dispute, I am available for court appointment as a discovery referee. I serve public entities as a neutral hearing officer on business license disputes, contested parking citations, and public employee disability retirement appeals.