United States District Court - Northern District Court of California

Claudia Wilken, Chief Judge

Richard W. Wieking, Clerk of Court

Becoming a Neutral

Panel Openings and Training Information

OPENING OF MEDIATION AND EARLY NEUTRAL EVALUATION PANELS

The ADR Program of the United States District Court, Northern District of California, is now accepting applications for new Mediators and Early Neutral Evaluators. Applications will be reviewed on a rolling basis beginning immediately and must be received no later than Tuesday, December 23, 2014, to be considered. 

Application Process

All prospective court neutrals must submit an application and must attend initial and periodic court-sponsored training. We provide separate, specially designed training for mediators, neutral evaluators, and arbitrators. Invitations to training sessions are issued periodically and training is free of charge.

The court strongly prefers that applicants use the Online Neutral Profile . If you are unable to use that form, please download the Neutral Application (.pdf) from our Forms page, complete it and return it to our office at the address listed on our Contacting the ADR Unit page.

The court welcomes applications from all qualified individuals, including women, people of color, gays and lesbians, and others who are members of groups who traditionally have been under-represented in the legal profession.

Mediator Qualifications

Mediation Process Description

Mediation is a flexible, non-binding, confidential process in which a neutral person facilitates settlement negotiations. The Mediator improves communications across party lines, helps parties articulate their interests and understand those of their opponent, probes the strengths and weaknesses of each party’s legal positions, identifies areas of agreement and helps generate options for a mutually agreeable resolution to the dispute. The Mediator generally does not give an overall evaluation of the case. A hallmark of mediation is its capacity to expand traditional settlement discussion and broaden resolution options, often by exploring litigant needs and interests that may be formally independent of the legal issues in controversy. For more information, see ADR Local Rule 6. (.pdf)

Mediator Requirements

• Admitted to the practice of law for at least 7 years and member of the bar of the Court or of the faculty of an accredited law school, or if a non-lawyer, an appropriate professional credential in another field (such as accounting)

• Knowledgeable about civil litigation in federal court

• Strong mediation process skills and the ability to listen well, facilitate communication and assist with settlement discussions 

• Successful completion of initial and periodic Court-sponsored training is required for service on the panel, as described below.

Mediation Continuing Education Requirements 

Continuing Training and Education:

Mediators who are invited to join the Court’s panel of neutrals, will be expected to meet the following requirements to remain on the panel:

1. Either co-mediate or have an experienced Court Mediation Panel member observe the first 1 to 3 mediation sessions. The ADR staff will assist in making appropriate arrangements to meet this qualification.

2. For the first year of service, either participate in an Advanced Mediation Practice Group or establish a mentoring relationship with an experienced District Court Mediation Panel member. Advanced Mediation Practice groups, which are led by ADR legal staff, meet monthly on a regularly scheduled basis for 2 hour sessions to discuss their cases. New members are expected to attend at least 8 of the 12 monthly sessions. Mentoring entails a commitment to debrief mediation sessions with an experienced panel member who can provide guidance and advice as needed. The ADR staff will assist in matching new Mediators with appropriate mentors.

3. Participate in 3 hours of continuing education relevant to mediation each year, including Court “brown bag” sessions or trainings, or other mediation, negotiation, or communication trainings.Participation in an Advanced Mediation Practice Group satisfies this requirement.

4. Spend a minimum of 10 hours each year reading books, articles, or reported cases relevant to mediation, negotiation, or communication.

Payment

Service as a Mediator is primarily pro bono.  Mediators volunteer their preparation time and the first four hours of a session. After four session hours, the Mediator may charge the parties $300 per hour. After four more hours, if all parties agree, the Mediator may charge any rate to which all parties agree. In special circumstances for complex cases requiring substantial preparation time, the parties and the Mediator may make other payment arrangements with the approval of the ADR legal staff.

Minimum Participation Requirement for Mediators

Mediators must be willing to serve in at least three cases per year under these programs.

ENE Evaluator Qualifications

ENE Process Description

In Early Neutral Evaluation (ENE), the parties and their counsel, in a confidential session, make compact presentations of their claims and defenses, including key evidence as developed at that juncture, and receive a non-binding evaluation by an experienced neutral lawyer with subject matter expertise. The Evaluator also helps identify areas of agreement, offers case planning suggestions and, if requested by the parties, provides settlement assistance. For more information, see ADR Local Rule 5. (.pdf)

ENE Evaluator Requirements

• Admitted to the practice of law for at least 15 years

• Member of the bar of the Court or of the faculty of an accredited law school

• Considerable experience with civil litigation in federal court

• Substantial expertise in the subject matter of the case

• Temperament and training to listen well, facilitate communication across party lines and assist parties with settlement discussions

• Successful completion of initial and periodic Court-sponsored training is required for service on the panel, as described below.

ENE Training and Continuing EducationRequirements

Continuing Training and Education:

Evaluators who are invited to join the Court’s panel of neutrals, will be expected to meet the following requirements to remain on the panel:

1. Participate in 3 hours of continuing education relevant to the panelist's areas of expertise each year.

2. Participate periodically in Court-sponsored ENE continuing education as offered by the Court.

3. Spend a minimum of 10 hours each year reading books, articles, or reported cases relevant to the panelist's areas of expertise.

Payment

Service as an ENE Evaluator is primarily pro bono. Evaluators volunteer their preparation time and the first four hours of a session. After four session hours, the Evaluator may charge the parties $300 per hour. After four more hours, if all parties agree, the Evaluator may charge any rate to which all parties agree. In special circumstances for complex cases requiring substantial preparation time, the parties and the Evaluator may make other payment arrangements with the approval of the ADR legal staff.

Minimum Participation Requirement for Evaluators

Evaluators must be willing to serve in at least three cases per year under these programs.

Arbitrator Qualifications

Arbitration Process Description

Arbitration is an adjudicative process in which an arbitrator or a panel of three arbitrators issues a non-binding judgment (“award”) on the merits after an expedited, adversarial hearing. Either party may reject the non-binding award and request a trial de novo. An arbitration occurs earlier in the life of a case than a trial and is less formal and less expensive. Because testimony is taken under oath and is subject to cross-examination, arbitration can be especially useful in cases that turn on credibility of witnesses. Arbitrators do not facilitate settlement discussions. For more information, see ADR Local Rule 4. (.pdf)

Arbitrator Requirements

• Admitted to the practice of law for at least 10 years

• Member of the bar of the Court or of the faculty of an accredited law school

• Either: for not less than five years, committed 50% or more of their professional time to matters involving litigation, or substantial experience serving as a neutral in dispute resolution proceedings.

Arbitration Training and Continuing Education

Full participation in the Court’s own Arbitration training is required, regardless of whether an applicant has received prior Arbitration training. Arbitrators are also expected to partake in periodic continuing education activities scheduled by the ADR Program.

Payment

The Court pays single arbitrators $250 per day and pays members of three arbitrator panels $150 per day, pursuant to statute.