Condo Media - May 2018 - 26

' Magic in Mediation'

C

Condominium attorneys-at least most
we interviewed for this article-don't
share her enthusiasm for mediation or
her conviction that it is a desirable option
for their association clients. "I don't like
it," Ellen Shapiro, a partner in Goodman,
Shapiro & Lombardi, LLC, states. Shapiro and other attorneys believe mediation
forces associations to unnecessarily
and inappropriately cede authority and
negotiating strength that state laws and
governing documents provide.
The debate is important, because the
courts increasingly favor mediation (as a
means of controlling crowded dockets),
and lawmakers in many states are
promoting legislation requiring condominium boards and owners to mediate
disputes before taking them to court. (See
sidebar on page 30). Some condominium
documents also now require mediation
or arbitration for some disputes.
To clarify, we are talking about mediation rather than arbitration. Although the
terms are used interchangeably, they are
not synonymous. Both offer alternatives
to litigation. Arbitration is less expensive
and less formal than litigation, but more
formal and more expensive than mediation. A key difference: In an arbitration,
an arbitrator or a panel of arbitrators,
renders a decision, which may or may not
be binding; in a mediation, the mediator
facilitates a negotiation between the parties, who themselves craft an agreement
that resolves their dispute.
EFFECTIVE, COST-EFFECTIVE
AND CONFIDENTIAL
Marquis, whose firm (Marquis Mediation, LLC) provides mediation services
throughout New England, recites a long
list of mediation's benefits, beginning
with its effectiveness. Mediation succeeds most of the time, she says-80
to 90 percent of the time, according to
the American Arbitration Association.
And unlike litigation, which can drag on
for weeks or years, she points out, most
mediations can be completed in a day and
at a fraction of the cost.
Mediations are also confidential-they
don't create a public record and so don't
attract the media attention and negative

26

CONDOMEDIA

publicity a legal battle can produce. Freed
of the rigid rules and formal procedures
that govern litigation, participants in a
mediation "can think outside the box,"
Marquis says. "They can brainstorm and
come up with creative solutions." Equally
important, she suggests, is the "buy-in"
mediation produces. "When parties participate in determining the resolution of
a dispute," she says, "they are more likely
to comply with it."
But the primary benefit of mediation
for community associations, she believes,
lies in its structure and its philosophy:
Litigation, by its nature, is a tug-of-war,
designed to produce winners and losers;
mediation is a collaboration, designed to
bring parties together. Where litigation
emphasizes differences between participants, mediation encourages a "we're all
in it together" mentality, Marquis suggests. And in a condominium community,
where warring parties are also usually
neighbors who must continue living
together after a dispute ends, "mediation
is a great alternative for boards," she says.
Many condominium disputes are
driven by emotions-people feel they
are being treated unfairly or think their
concerns are being ignored. What many
people want most, Marquis says, is "a
chance to vent," and mediation provides
a forum in which they can do that.
In one recent mediation in which she
was involved, a condo owner arrived
with a huge binder
filled with detailed
descriptions of every
"transgression"
about which the
owner was complaining, including photos
illustrating them.
"It was important to
her to be heard and
acknowledged," Marquis recounts. "And
once she had presented her case, the
tide turned. When she
said, 'Can I put my
binder away now,' I
knew we were going
to settle."

Attorneys who oppose mediation or
question its benefits, typically agree with
the assumption on which it is based-
that their association clients should
avoid litigation, if possible. But they
don't think mediation is appropriate for
many association disputes, and where
it is a viable option, they don't think a
structured mediation, involving an outside mediator is necessary.
AN IMBALANCE OF POWER
The biggest problem with mediation and
the reason many condominium attorneys
reject it, Richard Brooks, a partner in
Marcus, Errico, Emmer & Brooks, believes is, "it doesn't work in its traditional
form for most condominium issues."
Mediation is designed to create a level
playing field in which the parties have
equal negotiating power. But in a condominium, Brooks notes, the association
holds most of the power-and appropriately so, he says, for the same reason
that municipal governments have more
power than individuals. "Associations
need their power to make sure the community works for all of its members."
One of the most powerful tools
the association has, he says, is the
threat to sue owners who violate the
statute or the governing documents.
Mediation dilutes that threat. "Isn't
the association better off with the
ability to threaten litigation, and the
added threat that owners might be required
to pay court costs and
attorneys' fees?"
Some mediation
advocates suggest
that the prospect
of collecting attorneys' fees and court
costs-guaranteed to
associations in some
legal disputes-creates an incentive
for them to litigate.
But Brooks says this
legal hammer in the
board's hand actually
has the opposite
effect. The threat of



Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Condo Media - May 2018

Contents
Condo Media - May 2018 - Cover1
Condo Media - May 2018 - Cover2
Condo Media - May 2018 - Contents
Condo Media - May 2018 - 2
Condo Media - May 2018 - 3
Condo Media - May 2018 - 4
Condo Media - May 2018 - 5
Condo Media - May 2018 - 6
Condo Media - May 2018 - 7
Condo Media - May 2018 - 8
Condo Media - May 2018 - 9
Condo Media - May 2018 - 10
Condo Media - May 2018 - 11
Condo Media - May 2018 - 12
Condo Media - May 2018 - 13
Condo Media - May 2018 - 14
Condo Media - May 2018 - 15
Condo Media - May 2018 - 16
Condo Media - May 2018 - 17
Condo Media - May 2018 - 18
Condo Media - May 2018 - 19
Condo Media - May 2018 - 20
Condo Media - May 2018 - 21
Condo Media - May 2018 - 22
Condo Media - May 2018 - 23
Condo Media - May 2018 - 24
Condo Media - May 2018 - 25
Condo Media - May 2018 - 26
Condo Media - May 2018 - 27
Condo Media - May 2018 - 28
Condo Media - May 2018 - 29
Condo Media - May 2018 - 30
Condo Media - May 2018 - 31
Condo Media - May 2018 - 32
Condo Media - May 2018 - 33
Condo Media - May 2018 - 34
Condo Media - May 2018 - 35
Condo Media - May 2018 - 36
Condo Media - May 2018 - 37
Condo Media - May 2018 - 38
Condo Media - May 2018 - 39
Condo Media - May 2018 - 40
Condo Media - May 2018 - 41
Condo Media - May 2018 - 42
Condo Media - May 2018 - 43
Condo Media - May 2018 - 44
Condo Media - May 2018 - 45
Condo Media - May 2018 - 46
Condo Media - May 2018 - 47
Condo Media - May 2018 - 48
Condo Media - May 2018 - 49
Condo Media - May 2018 - 50
Condo Media - May 2018 - 51
Condo Media - May 2018 - 52
Condo Media - May 2018 - 53
Condo Media - May 2018 - 54
Condo Media - May 2018 - 55
Condo Media - May 2018 - 56
Condo Media - May 2018 - 57
Condo Media - May 2018 - 58
Condo Media - May 2018 - 59
Condo Media - May 2018 - 60
Condo Media - May 2018 - 61
Condo Media - May 2018 - 62
Condo Media - May 2018 - 63
Condo Media - May 2018 - 64
Condo Media - May 2018 - Cover3
Condo Media - May 2018 - Cover4
http://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/mcneill/condomedia_201905
http://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/mcneill/condomedia_201904
http://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/mcneill/condomedia_201903
http://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/mcneill/condomedia_201902
http://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/mcneill/condomedia_201901
http://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/mcneill/condomedia_201812
http://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/mcneill/condomedia_201811
http://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/mcneill/condomedia_201810
http://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/mcneill/condomedia_201809
http://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/mcneill/condomedia_201808
http://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/mcneill/condomedia_201807
http://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/mcneill/condomedia_201806
http://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/mcneill/condomedia_201805
http://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/mcneill/condomedia_201804
http://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/mcneill/condomedia_201803
http://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/mcneill/condomedia_201802
http://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/mcneill/condomedia_201801
http://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/mcneill/condomedia_201712
http://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/mcneill/condomedia_201711
http://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/mcneill/condomedia_201710
http://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/mcneill/condomedia_201709
http://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/mcneill/condomedia_201708
http://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/mcneill/condomedia_201707
http://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/mcneill/condomedia_201706
http://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/mcneill/condomedia_201705
http://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/mcneill/condomedia_201704
http://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/mcneill/condomedia_201703
http://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/mcneill/condomedia_201702
http://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/mcneill/condomedia_201701
http://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/mcneill/condomedia_201612
http://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/mcneill/condomedia_201611
http://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/mcneill/condomedia_201610
http://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/mcneill/condomedia_201609
http://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/mcneill/condomedia_201608
http://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/mcneill/condomedia_201607
http://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/mcneill/condomedia_201606
http://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/mcneill/condomedia_201605
http://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/mcneill/condomedia_201604
http://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/mcneill/condomedia_201603
http://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/mcneill/condomedia_201602
http://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/mcneill/condomedia_201601
http://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/mcneill/condomedia_201512
http://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/mcneill/condomedia_201511
http://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/mcneill/condomedia_201510
http://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/mcneill/condomedia_201509
http://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/mcneill/condomedia_201508
http://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/mcneill/condomedia_201507
http://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/mcneill/condomedia_201506
http://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/mcneill/condomedia_201505
http://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/mcneill/condomedia_201504
http://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/mcneill/condomedia_201503
http://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/mcneill/condomedia_201502
http://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/mcneill/condomedia_201501
http://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/mcneill/condomedia_201412
http://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/mcneill/condomedia_201411
http://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/mcneill/condomedia_201410
http://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/mcneill/condomedia_201409
http://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/mcneill/condomedia_201408
http://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/mcneill/condomedia_201407
http://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/mcneill/condomedia_201406
http://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/mcneill/condomedia_201405
http://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/mcneill/condomedia_201404
http://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/mcneill/condomedia_201403
http://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/mcneill/condomedia_201402
http://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/mcneill/condomedia_201401
http://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/mcneill/condomedia_201312
http://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/mcneill/condomedia_201311
http://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/mcneill/condomedia_201310
http://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/mcneill/condomedia_201309
http://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/mcneill/condomedia_201308
http://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/mcneill/condomedia_201307
http://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/mcneill/condomedia_201306
http://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/mcneill/condomedia_201305
http://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/mcneill/condomedia_201304
http://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/mcneill/condomedia_201303
http://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/mcneill/condomedia_201302
http://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/mcneill/condomedia_201301
http://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/mcneill/condomedia_201212
http://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/mcneill/condomedia_201211
http://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/mcneill/condomedia_201210
http://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/mcneill/condomedia_201209
http://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/mcneill/condomedia_201208
http://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/mcneill/condomedia_201207
http://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/mcneill/condomedia_201206
http://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/mcneill/condomedia_201205
http://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/mcneill/condomedia_201204
http://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/mcneill/condomedia_201203
http://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/mcneill/condomedia_201202
http://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/mcneill/condomedia_201201
http://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/mcneill/condomedia_201112
http://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/mcneill/condomedia_201111
http://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/mcneill/condomedia_201110
http://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/mcneill/condomedia_201109
http://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/mcneill/condomedia_201108
http://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/mcneill/condomedia_201107
http://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/mcneill/condomedia_201106
http://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/mcneill/condomedia_201105
http://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/mcneill/condomedia_201104
http://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/mcneill/condomedia_201103
http://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/mcneill/condomedia_201102
http://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/mcneill/condomedia_201101
http://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/mcneill/condomedia_201012
http://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/mcneill/condomedia_201011
http://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/mcneill/condomedia_201010
http://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/mcneill/condomedia_201009
http://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/mcneill/condomedia_201008
http://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/mcneill/condomedia_201007
http://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/mcneill/condomedia_201006
http://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/mcneill/condomedia_201005
http://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/mcneill/condomedia_200904
http://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/mcneill/condomedia_201003
http://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/mcneill/condomedia_201002
http://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/mcneill/condomedia_201001
http://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/mcneill/condomedia_200912
http://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/mcneill/condomedia_200911
http://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/mcneill/condomedia_200910
http://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/mcneill/condomedia_200909
http://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/mcneill/condomedia_200908
http://www.nxtbookMEDIA.com