“Aikidation” (The Peaceful Martial Art of Mediation) by Ben J. Cunningham

The roles of mediators are varied and numerous: In the course and context of a single mediation session we might act as facilitators, counselors, conciliators, teachers, referees, diplomats, sages, idea generators, evaluators, moderators, negotiators, crisis intervention experts, detectives and psychologists, all while remaining an unbiased neutral in the dispute. The mediator is charged with the responsibility of providing a process and forum to resolve, manage, or transform conflicts. The profession of a mediator is not easily learned, nor is it easy once learned, and despite years of never-ending training and experience the mediator, no matter the skill level, strives continually (or rather, should strive continually) for and toward mastery. While training is critical and necessary, all the training in the world is only as good as our ability to incorporate what we learn theoretically into practical application based on our individual styles, experience, and personalities, coupled with the specific dynamics of the matter with which a mediator is dealing. Mediators are “peacemakers,” but that word often and inaccurately connotes passivity. The effective peacemaker is anything but passive; an effective “peacemaker” is not averse to conflict—to the contrary, the most effective mediators and conflict managers must learn to enter into conflict and embrace it, without becoming part of it. The more we learn about conflict resolution processes, human nature, the intricacies of specific disputes, and techniques for dealing with conflict, the better peacemakers we will become. The successful mediator is in fact a warrior, a warrior for peace. WHAT IS A WARRIOR FOR PEACE? First, what a warrior for peace is not. I insert here a personal note: Once upon...

The Lakeside Solution

What:  A flexible process that offers the benefits of both mediation and arbitration. The parties present their best case in front of two neutrals; one serving as an arbitrator and the other as a mediator. The mediator does not take part in the arbitration process and has no interaction or communications with the assigned arbitrator regarding the case. The mediator is an observer during the arbitration, using the arbitration as a method of learning the parties’ positions on the law and facts relating to the dispute. At the conclusion of the arbitration, while the arbitrator is drafting their decision, the matter will move directly into the afternoon mediation segment of the process. The decision will be sealed and kept in the possession of the arbitrator. If the case resolves during the mediation process, no arbitration decision will be rendered or revealed to the parties. For the remainder of the process period, or until impasse is reached – whichever event occurs first – the mediator will work with the parties in an attempt to reach an agreed upon resolution of the dispute. If the parties successfully resolve their conflict in mediation, then they will draft a Mediated Settlement Agreement to settle the matter on their own terms. If the parties are unable to resolve their differences in mediation, then the Arbitrator’s decision will be unsealed and be binding on the parties. The Arbitrator’s decision will only be rendered and binding in the event the case does not settle during the post-arbitration mediation process. Why: Cost-efficient assured resolution of the case matter in a designated time frame. The parties get the...
Bill Fowler

Bill Fowler

William (“Bill”) Fowler brings to mediation a career in law and business in Austin, Washington, DC, New York City, and Europe during which he acquired a deep understanding of commercial and financial transactions, representing corporate and banking clients and acting as principal.  In addition, Bill has significant government and regulatory experience, having held appointive positions in Washington and Austin.  Bill is also an ordained Episcopal priest who has led a number of churches and their schools during times of transition, sometimes following protracted conflict.   Bill applies a unique combination of negotiating skills and insights developed in his legal, business, and government career, and in his work leading churches.  He has a track record of solving problems under challenging circumstances with entrepreneurs, investors, lenders, stakeholders, corporate executives and public officials, as well as with families and private individuals who are in conflict.  Bill has a passion for finding common ground in virtually every type of civil dispute across a broad spectrum of legal practice.   Bill’s government and public policy experience includes service as Counsel to the Commissioner of the Securities and Exchange Commission during the Reagan Administration, and Chair of the Texas Commission of Licensing and Regulation, the policy-making body of Texas’ omnibus regulatory agency which oversees a broad range of occupations, businesses, facilities and equipment.  Bill was appointed by Gov. George W. Bush during his first year in office and elected chair by fellow commissioners.  He was re-appointed by Gov. Perry.   Bill is part of an extended Austin family.  He grew up on a ranch in Llano County that  he still calls home.  Bill holds his...
Lucius D. Bunton

Lucius D. Bunton

Lucius is known as a mediator who brings a calming and thoughtful presence to the mediation process.  He has practiced law in Texas for over thirty years.  He is a graduate of the University of Texas at Austin and Southern Methodist University law school. He began his practice as an assistant Attorney General of Texas practicing in the areas of education and civil rights.  From 1982 to 1988, he was a partner in the firm of Bunton, Nolan, Odé and Cooper and began his own practice in 1988.  He has practiced extensively in employment law and civil rights litigation – representing both plaintiffs and defendants.  His practice has included work in family law and business litigation. Lucius’s clients have included the University Interscholastic League, the Texas Educational Foundation, and the Texas State Troopers Association.  He has practiced in state and federal courts at all levels in Texas, the US Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit, and the US Supreme Court. Lucius is rated as “AV” by Martindale-Hubbell, has been credentialed as “Distinguished” by the Texas Mediators Credentialing Association, and is a member of the Texas Association of Attorney-Mediators. He is a Fellow of the American Bar Association and a Life Fellow of the Texas Bar Foundation. Lucius received his initial mediation training in 1994 and family law training in 1995.  He has served as a mediator in more than 1000 disputes and has mediated cases in many jurisdictions in Texas, the Austin Court of Civil Appeals, federal courts in the Western and Southern Districts of Texas, and the US Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit.  Lucius has...