Fairly Compensate New York Court Mediators, Neutral Evaluators, and Arbitrators

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UPDATE AS OF 04-29-2021: I recently obtained and edited a graphic that I think better reflects the theme of this petition--the "golden mean" or "golden balance" of time and money in the pursuit of justice and resolution of disputes--than my image.  Even though I alone started it, this petition is not about Elan E. Weinreb but about the idea of fair, balanced compensation for New York ADR professionals--lawyers and non-lawyers alike--working in tandem and unity with the leaders of court-annexed ADR initiatives to benefit the people of the Empire State. 

On to the petition: 

Mediators, neutral evaluators, arbitrators, and other alternative dispute resolution ("ADR") professionals who work in New York court-annexed ADR programs such as New York State Supreme Court ADR programs that require such professionals to initially take 40 hours of Part 146 mediation training (which usually runs somewhere around $2,000) and the Appellate Division, Second Department's Mandatory Mediation Program are NOT PAID ANYTHING for the many hours they spend preparing for mediation and other ADR sessions as well as for the first 90 minutes to 3 hours (depending upon each program) of initial mediation sessions. 

They are also not reimbursed for any out-of-pocket expenses they may have to incur, including but not limited to travel, videoconferencing, establishing e-signature platform accounts, and using legal research services such as Lexis and Westlaw.

Rather, these professionals--many of whom come from or seek to serve African-American, Hispanic/Latino, Asian-American, and other diverse or minority populations--must like hungry dogs beg the parties in court-annexed mediations and other ADR processes to compensate them for their time once any "free" mediation or other ADR session time has passed.

This compensation does happen, but rarely, and almost always as such a meager level to the point where it becomes practically meaningless.  A personal example: I spent over 120 hours attempting to settle a 12-party civil action where the potential amount in controversy was over $1,000,000 and received about $2,500 in compensation from the parties.  That amounts to about $21/hr., and when that is divided 12 ways, it falls far below minimum wage.

The New York Office of Court Administration ("OCA"), which has supported New York State Chief Judge Janet DiFiore's promotion of ADR to resolve disputes efficiently and expeditiously (what is known as "presumptive ADR" in the courts), recognizes the inequity of the status quo and wants to see ADR professionals working in court ADR programs paid fairly for their preparation and other hard work in assisting the courts with dispute resolution efforts.  However, at the same time, OCA maintains that New York judicial personnel need enabling legislation like that pertaining to ADR in the federal courts (see 28 U.S.C. Section 658 (available at https://m.openjurist.org/title-28/us-code/section-658/compensation-of-arbitrators-and-neutrals)) to have the legal authority to order parties to compensate ADR professionals from the moment they begin work on assigned cases.  (See https://www.nycla.org/ItemDetail?iProductCode=CLE_OD_ODRP (and please also see the note following my signature below)). 

This petition requests the New York State legislative, executive, and judicial branches to work together in enacting similar compensation-enabling legislation for New York so that court-associated ADR professionals can--like their judicial counterparts--receive fair compensation for their time and effort in resolving cases pending in both New York trial and appellate-level courts.

If you believe in correcting injustice and inequity, upholding fairness, stopping unjust enrichment, supporting ADR and ADR professionals in resolving disputes efficiently and expeditiously, or just simply helping the people of New York (and perhaps those of other states that do not compensate their court-associated ADR professionals), please do not hesitate to sign this petition.  The time for change is now!

Thank you for taking the time to read this petition description and your support.

Respectfully yours,

Elan E. Weinreb - Part 146 New York State Supreme Court Mediator (New York and Nassau Counties), New York State Supreme Court Appellate Division, Second Department Special Master (Mandatory Mediation Program), and distinguished member of many other ADR panels (see https://www.weinreblaw.com/attorneys/elan-e-weinreb/)

Note as of 05-06-2021: Prior to this date, a link appearing in this petition led to a video on The Weinreb Law Firm, PLLC's YouTube channel that has since been removed.  This was done at the request of some OCA representatives out of concern that the content therein--namely a position on court-annexed mediator compensation--would be taken out of the context--a March 4, 2021 CLE program that included discussion of more than just the mediator compensation issue--in which the position was stated.  The link above (https://www.nycla.org/ItemDetail?iProductCode=CLE_OD_ODRP) provides access to that content in its original and full context, which accords with the expectations of everyone who participated in that CLE program, and thus serves to resolve the OCA representatives' context concern while simultaneously informing the public of their position on mediator compensation.