Patricia King

PATRICIA A. KING: Mediation offers better path to resolve issues

trish-king
Patricia A. King, partner at Thompson, Meier & King 

Mediation week is once again upon us. Last year, the Cherokee County Board of Commissioners proclaimed the third week of October as “Mediation Week” and the American Bar Association continues to designate this week as such.

When parties hear they must mediate their case prior to a final hearing or a trial, their first thought or question is generally, “Why?” or more likely “Are you kidding me? Why should I have to pay the mediator and my attorney to try to settle my case when I have not been able to reach an agreement in months or even years?” or “I’m not going to settle because he, she, they or it are wrong.” The simple answer is because mediation is statistically quite successful.

Mediation has and can resolve the case and bring months or years of litigation and financial and emotional expense to an end, even when the parties had previously felt there was no hope for settlement. Mediation has been successfully utilized in a wide variety of situations and cases that one would not generally think would be receptive to such a process, such as disputes involving aging parents, same gender relationships, congregational conflicts, health care issues, complex employment matters and a myriad of other cases.

The benefits of mediation are numerous. It can be cost effective; it allows for flexibility and creativity in developing a resolution; it’s efficient; and it is confidential. It also gives the parties the opportunity, if necessary, to express their emotions and it sometimes changes wrong perceptions or provides an opportunity for new information to be exchanged. Mediation may give a party the opportunity to be heard directly by the other side; it can help parties heal from hurt feelings and enable them to walk away from all the emotions that surround fault; it can help parties evaluate options; and it can preserve or terminate relationships more amicably. Mediation can also help the parties get a realistic understanding of their case. Parties to a mediated agreement are more likely to adhere to the terms of the agreement since they are the ones that developed the agreement.

The mediator will seek to assist the parties in reaching a mutually satisfying resolution to their conflict by facilitating the discussions and/or negotiations between the parties. The mediator focuses on the interests and needs of each party, as opposed to their positions, rights or desires. The final outcome is one agreed upon by the parties. In many cases, the parties will feel their voices have been heard and understood, and they have found a way to move forward.

So what may make a mediation successful? There are a number of factors that lead to a successful mediation. A few that seem to play a part in every mediation are:

  1. Treat everyone with respect, even if the parties disagree with the other’s rendition of the facts or there is animosity between the parties. No one wants to participate in reaching a resolution if they feel they are being treated poorly or called names.
  2. Patience, patience, patience. Mediation takes time. It takes time to work past hurt feelings or wrongs, as well as for parties to express their feelings, views, positions and interests.
  3. The person who has the authority to make the agreement needs to participate in the mediation. The ultimate decision maker needs to be present or immediately available. This way everyone can fully participate in the exchange of information and events as they unfold during the mediation, as well as have the opportunity to and express opinions, concerns and ideas for resolution.
  4. The participants need to be willing to compromise.
  5. Information needs to be shared. Many times parties resolve their case when one or all of the participants have learned something new during mediation.

Remember, there are no joint winners in court.

As Supreme Court Justice, Sandra Day O’Connor so eloquently stated: “The courts of this country should not be the places where resolution of disputes begins. They should be the places where the disputes end after alternative methods of resolving the disputes have been considered and tried.”

 

Patricia A. King is a partner of the law firm Thompson, Meier & King, P.C. in Canton. King’s practice focuses primarily in the areas of Juvenile and Family Law, and she is certified mediator with the Georgia Commission on Dispute Resolution.

Patricia King now a registered neutral with GAOC and Commission on Dispute Resolution

trish-kingThompson, Meier & King is pleased to announce that the firm has another mediator among the partners.  Patricia “Trish” King is now a registered neutral with the Georgia Administrative Office of the Courts and the Commission on Dispute Resolution, following 90 hours of training through Henning Mediation and Arbitration Services, Inc., with an emphasis on Domestic Mediation.  Trish brings to her skill as a mediator over 25 years of extensive experience in family law, having concentrated her practice throughout her career in child custody and visitation, divorce, property division, separation issues, child support, alimony, modification actions, enforcement of court orders, pre and postnuptial agreements, paternity and legitimation, adoption and child welfare.  Over her career, Trish has represented parties, including as an advocate for children, in numerous mediations and knows from a litigant’s standpoint the benefits of mediating.  She looks forward to utilizing her experience in assisting the parties in their efforts to reach a mutually satisfactory resolution to their dispute.

King, Meier named among legal world’s ‘Elite’

John-Meier trish-kingPassion for practicing law is just one quality that boosted two Canton attorneys to the top. John Meier and Patricia King, who are partners in the Canton law firm of Thompson, Meier and King PC, recently were selected for inclusion in Legal Elite by Georgia Trend Magazine.

The attorneys were named as elite members of the legal field after a peer-review process where thousands of attorneys, who are members of the state bar, voted for the top attorneys in 10 different practices.

Meier was named Legal Elite in estate planning, and King was named Legal Elite in family law.

“I have to admit I was pleased to learn that my peers thought highly of me,” Meier said. “This also helped encourage me to continue pursuing my passion and broaden the services we provide so that we can be of greater assistance.”

King shared a similar sentiment.

“It was truly an honor,” she said of being named in Legal Elite. “However, I have the privilege of working with so many wonderful attorneys and staff that any accolades I may receive is really the result of a concerted effort.”

King, who has practiced family law since 1989, said going to law school was not a venture she had thought to pursue until graduating from college.

“I received my (bachelor of science) in psychology and criminal justice and was focusing my career on working with troubled teens,” she said.

It was an internship with a Connecticut juvenile probation department that opened King’s eyes to attending law school.

“I realized what a hard road many young people were faced with once they entered the system, whether it was because they committed a crime or because their parents could not care for them,” she said. “That’s when I decided to go to law school. After I graduated from law school, I entered private practice for a number of years but was offered the opportunity to become a child welfare attorney for the state of Florida.”

King’s career took off after that and with 15 years of experience in the courtroom, her passion for family law remains just as strong as it was when she started on her career path.

“Generally, family law deals with a number of family related matters, such as child welfare, adoption, delinquency, termination of parental rights as well as divorce, annulments, paternity and legitimization and issues tied to those matters,” she said.

“I knew very little about this practice until I became a child welfare attorney in Florida, and then it took off from there. I knew this was what I was supposed to be doing,” King said.

Meier said he enjoys practicing estate planning, which, he added, encompasses many different parts of the law.

“Certainly, it involves planning for the efficient transfer of assets in accordance with one’s wishes after death.  However, it also involves assisting clients with their long-term goals before death,” he said. “This can involve issues related to long-term health care, business succession, incompetence and planning for the care of a spouse or other loved ones, just to mention a few.”

Meier started his career as an attorney in 1985 and said he was inspired to pursue law by his friend’s father.

“However, I also grew up working on family farms. I went to college and furthered my love for farming and the family farm,” he said. “I was fortunate to have been hired by the University of Georgia’s Agricultural Economics Department (I ,think it is now the College of Environmental Sciences) after graduating. I worked for four years with UGA as an economic research associate. I spent those years working with hundreds of family farmers and agribusinesses across the state.”

When Meier was an economic research associate, he said it was a time of ultra-high inflation and oil embargos.

“I saw way too many families displaced from the only life they knew and lose assets that had been in their families for generations,” he said. “During this time my father died, and I was uncertain about the future of our farms. I decided that pursuing a career as an attorney assisting families and businesses build, retain and pass along assets was a way I could help others. Things have kind of morphed from there.”

Since embarking on a career that helps others plan for the future, Meier said one of his greatest accomplishments is “providing comfort to someone in a time of turmoil or anxiety.”

“This may not be a big accomplishment in terms of its effect on others but, for that person or family, it was one of the most important things in their life,” he said. “I believe my biggest blessing is my family.”

King said her greatest accomplishment is not tangible.

“I love what I do and the people I work with,” she said. “I have asked myself more than once, ‘how did I get so blessed, especially when it comes to the people in my office?’”

Similar to any career, there is always room for improvement.

pic-4-1aMeier said he encourages growth through professionalism in the courtroom.

“Fiduciary dispute matters are almost always complicated by very strong emotions,” he said. “In my opinion, attorneys certainly need to be zealous advocates for their clients, but they also should act in ways to try and maintain the focus on the client’s goals while endeavoring to limit the often adverse impact of decisions made based on emotion rather than reason or prudence.”

King agreed, adding that because family law matters can be highly emotional, she strives to treat everyone involved with respect.

“That’s not to say that I have achieved perfection in this area, although I can aim to do so one day,” she added.

 

The above news story was written by Jessica Lindley and published in the Cherokee Ledger News. The story can be found online here.