State Bar of Michigan Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) Section Announces Michigan Mediates!

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Program seeks to help improve many of Michigan’s budget and societal problems.

“This could translate to government agencies saving 85% of taxpayer money in Michigan when applying mediation to resolve various conflicts instead of litigation,” said Paula K. Manis, Chair of the State Bar ADR Section Government Task Force.

To celebrate 20 years of service championing alternative forms of dispute resolution including mediation, facilitation and arbitration, the State Bar of Michigan Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) Section is launching a state-wide public education campaign called “Michigan Mediates!” at its annual meeting on Friday, September 23 at The Amway Grand Plaza Hotel in Grand Rapids at 12:30pm. The goal of Michigan Mediates! is to elevate awareness and use of mediation as a practical and cost-effective tool to help solve many of the complex problems plaguing our government agencies, schools and communities. “I commend the State Bar ADR Section for initiating this program,” said Donna J. Craig, Chair of the State Bar ADR Section. “Our government agencies can benefit from applying mediation, facilitation and other forms of dispute resolution as tools to resolve conflicts and save taxpayer money. When this happens, everyone benefits,” she said.

The ADR Section researched ways other states and government agencies have benefited by implementing mediation. “When implemented in government agencies, there is ample evidence that mediation provides substantial cost savings, increased workplace productivity and promotes timely achievement of agency goals, according to a 2007 U.S. Department of Justice study,” said Dave Baumhart, Chair Elect. “For many reasons, we believe the time to launch Michigan Mediates! is now,” he said. Michigan Mediates! includes ADR Section members volunteering time to train government employees to use mediation and facilitation. Trainers demonstrate the types of conflicts appropriate for mediation and ways conflicts can be de-escalated before they reach the point of litigation. Two government agencies participating in future trainings by the ADR Section include the Michigan Attorney General’s Office and the Department of Natural Resources.

In an Oregon study involving 500 court cases, mediation was found to be the least expensive of all dispute resolution options: $9,537 versus $60,557 for a trial. “This could translate to government agencies saving 85% of taxpayer money in Michigan when applying mediation to resolve various conflicts instead of litigation,” said Paula K. Manis, Chair of the State Bar ADR Section Government Task Force. Manis, who facilitated a multi-month, multi-party Consensus Building Committee (CBC) regarding an I-94 interchange dispute, understands first-hand how mediators can help resolve complex, multi-party conflicts. “The most important thing we did was listen to the various parties, highlight their concerns, establish their priorities and facilitate collaboration and cooperation amongst the parties. The result was an interchange design the Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT), the Federal Highway Administration and the people of Jackson could live with,” she said.

While Community Leader Bishop Edgar L. Vann, a former Detroit Police Commissioner and founder of M.A.D.E (Men Affirming Discipline and Education), a highly acclaimed program to combat truancy and provide safe passages for students, hopes to see mediation skills taught and used to prevent truancy in schools. “Detroit is Michigan’s ground zero for preventing truancy and improving our graduation rate. If we want our State to have a future, we must do all we can to keep our children safe and in school. Paramount in all of this is teaching them conflict resolution skills, and providing them resources to prevent truancy. With a decreasing number of police officers in most Michigan cities, I also believe mediators could help work with our police in resolving citizen complaints about police officers, neighbor disputes, noise ordinance violations, animal control issues and more,” he said.    

The State of Ohio implemented a “Truancy Prevention through Mediation” (TPTM) program, and, over a 10-year period, participating school districts experienced improved attendance rates amongst youth who participated in mediation, and uncovered common causes for truancy including special education needs, transportation problems and health issues. “Traditional punishment for truancy would not have uncovered these issues,” said Vann. “That is why mediation will help our students with resources to overcome the obstacles that are keeping them from attending school,” he added.

Michigan Mediates! will include state-wide trainings, public service announcements, and collaboration with grass roots partners including the 20 community dispute resolution centers throughout the state, the Michigan Supreme Court State Court Administrative Office, school districts, police departments, government agencies, and faith-based organizations. A website,, is being developed as a catalyst for education and information on mediation in Michigan. For more information, please contact Peggy Goodwin at 248.376.0390 or peggygoodwin(at)goodwinconsulting(dot)us.

State Bar of Michigan ADR Section Mission Statement
The Alternative Dispute Resolution Section provides members of the State Bar of Michigan and the general public with creative leadership in the dispute resolution field. The Section fosters diversity in the profession; develops and offers educational programs; promotes access to dispute resolution alternatives; monitors legislative and judicial activity; and provides policy guidance, information, and technical assistance on ethical issues, dispute resolution techniques, and training design.


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Peggy K. Goodwin

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