Hon. Lisa R. Curcio, (Ret.), senior mediator and arbitrator at ADR Systems, recently presented on effective mediation practices for mechanics lien cases to members of the Chicago Bar Association.
During the virtual CLE, she reviewed the advantages of mediating rather than litigating these claims, the components of a well-defined case and the steps construction attorneys should take to prepare for a mediation.
“It is reasonably certain that litigation will cost your client a lot of time and money and distract them from business,” said Judge Curcio. “Construction attorneys should mediate these cases not only to save time and money, but also to help preserve business relationships, control the outcome of the dispute and keep the proceedings and settlement agreement confidential.”
Judge Curcio also gave participants advice regarding mediation submissions. She emphasized that submissions should accomplish several goals:
- Demonstrate the lien’s validity
- Outline evidence of extra work
- Identify violations of the contract
- Present documentation of claimed damages (via photographs, expert reports, depositions, correspondences, change orders, etc.)
“Although not required, I believe that these materials should be exchanged between parties to promote goodwill and grease the wheels of negotiation,” said Judge Curcio.
As attorneys ready for mediation, they should make time to speak with their mediator and case manager. Judge Curcio noted that topics of discussion should include, but are not limited to, the following:
- The status of any litigation
- The amount of time needed for the mediation
- Those who should participate for meaningful conversations, such as decision-makers to approve any resolution
- Anything that needs to be done before the mediation itself, such as document exchange
- Whether opening statements will help or hurt
Attorneys should then “put on their counselor hat” to brief their clients on the particulars of their case and the nature of the mediation process, Judge Curcio explained. The matter cannot move forward if a client does not understand how their attorney is working on their behalf, how the mediation process works and what the mediator’s role is – a facilitator, not a judge.
“Mediation allows people to be heard, conserves resources and gives parties control of the process,” said Judge Curcio. “Effective construction lawyers will use mediation to meet client objectives and build better relationships with their clients.”
To learn more about resolving mechanics lien disputes through mediation, click here.
Hon. Lisa R. Curcio, (Ret.) brings an abundance of real-world experience – real estate, business and banking — to her mediation and arbitration practice. She spent 15 years as a Chancery Judge, presiding over mechanics liens, construction contracts and construction defect cases. Judge Curcio is regarded as an energetic and pragmatic neutral who helps parties construct suitable solutions to their disputes.
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