Thompson Meier King

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

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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.

Leadership Cherokee class of 2016 graduates

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Leadership Cherokee, a program of the Cherokee County Chamber of Commerce, graduated its 28th Anniversary Class during a September 16th ceremony. With the completion of this year’s class, the Alumni count now totals over 570 graduates.

Members of the Leadership Cherokee Class of 2016 selected three of their peers to receive special annual recognitions. The Cristal Stancil Leadership Award honorees were Shannon Gibbs, Cherokee Fire & Emergency Services, and Michael Zenchuk, Mayor Pro-Tem of the City of Holly Springs. The Bob Frongillo Magic Spark Plug Award was presented to Jack Tuszynski with Family Life Publications. Outgoing 2016 Leadership Cherokee Chair, Katie Wise of LGE Community Credit Union, was recognized by Incoming Chair, Heath Tippens with the Cherokee Office of Economic Development.

The Leadership Cherokee program kicked-off with a retreat where the group participated in both indoor and outdoor team building exercises that enabled them to learn not only about each other, but themselves through a look at personality types and communication styles. Over the course of the nine month period, Leadership Cherokee exposed the group of existing and emerging leaders to a broad range of sessions that focused on topics such as economic development, infrastructure, government, justice, arts, education, recreation, tourism, public safety, healthcare and social/human services.

The nomination deadline for the Leadership Cherokee Class of 2017 is October 1st. For information on the Leadership Cherokee Class of 2017 contact the Chamber office at 770-345-0400 or visit the Chamber’s website, CherokeeChamber.com.

(originally printed by the Cherokee County Chamber of Commerce)

Thompson, Meier & King, P.C. expands

We are proud to announce Thompson, Meier & King, P.C.’s expansion with the opening of our Blue Ridge office. Thompson, Meier & King has been active in all courts in the Appalachian Circuit since the firm’s inception and has received various awards and recognition within the legal community. It will be our pleasure to be able to better serve clients and the communities in Gilmer and Fannin Counties through our new location of 730 East Second Street, Suite 105, Blue Ridge, Georgia. Please call us for further information or to schedule your appointment.

Two of our attorneys helped coach Mock Trial

The Cherokee High School Mock Trial had another successful year competing against high schools across North Georgia. This year’s team was coached by Judge David Cannon, Jr., Ashley Carlile, Esq. and Cynthia Propst, Esq. The mock trial team placed third in this year’s Regional Mock Trial Competition, held at the Bartow County Courthouse on January 30th, 2016. The team also won three outstanding attorney awards and four outstanding witness awards at the Regional Competition. As a result of the win, the team advanced to the District Competition, which took place on January 27th, 2016 at the Bartow County Courthouse. The team advanced past the first level of the District Competition but was ultimately eliminated in the second round of the single elimination competition. The team still managed to bring home one attorney award and one witness award from the competition.

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.

Celebrating equal justice for all

Each year on May 1, the country celebrates the ideals of equality and justice under the rule of law in the United States and works to cultivate a respect for the legal system that contributes to our freedoms. This day is known as Law Day. Law Day was originally the idea of former American Bar Association president, Charles S. Rhyne, as a way to celebrate the legal system.

President Dwight D. Eisenhower went on to declare the first Law Day in 1958 and its formal observance was codified in 1961.

This year’s Law Day honors the 800th anniversary of the Magna Carta. Since its inception on June 15, 1215, the Magna Carta has stood for the protection of personal liberties and has also come to embody the idea that no person is above the law.

In the spirit of Law Day, bar associations and legal education associations throughout the country often participate in philanthropic and educational activities to benefit their respective communities. Locally, the Blue Ridge Bar Association and Rotary Club of Canton will be celebrating Law Day this year through a variety of service activities and events.

On March 27, the Blue Ridge Bar Association hosted an Easter Egg Hunt at Brown Park for the children of the Cherokee Family Violence Center. Thanks to donations from the community, about 40 children and their families were able to come out to gather eggs and toys. The Canton Police Department and Canton Fire Department also assisted in the festivities. Even the Easter Bunny made an appearance.

The Blue Ridge Bar Association will also be sending volunteers to Goshen Valley Boys Ranch to help out with various projects April 11. Located in Waleska, Goshen Valley provides homes for young men and boys who have been abused or neglected. Goshen also provides counseling, education, tutoring and other groups to assist the residents in breaking the cycle of abuse and neglect.

On April 10, the members of the Blue Ridge Bar Association will meet to consider nominations for the Liberty Bell Award and the Robert S. “Bob” Stubbs Distinguished Service Award.

The Liberty Bell Award is the most prestigious award given by lawyers to a non-lawyer. The award recognizes an individual who encourages greater respect for law and the courts, stimulates a deeper sense of individual responsibility so that citizens recognize their duties as well as their rights, contributes to the effective functioning of our institutions of government or fosters a better understanding and appreciation for the rule of law.

Locally, the award is given to a Cherokee County resident to recognize that individual for contributions outside of the person’s regular employment.

The Robert S. “Bob” Stubbs Distinguished Service Award recognizes a non-lawyer for his or her work in the legal community. This award is only given when a member of the community has made significant accomplishments in the legal community and therefore is not awarded every year.

The Blue Ridge Bar Association will also be collecting donations for the Georgia Legal Food Frenzy. This annual competition between Georgia’s law firms, legal organizations and law schools raises food and funds for regional food banks across the state.

The culmination of the local Law Day celebration will be on April 28 at the Law Day luncheon. The luncheon will be hosted by the Blue Ridge Bar Association and Rotary Club of Canton at the Bluffs.

On that day, the Blue Ridge Bar Association will present the Liberty Bell Award and Robert S. “Bob” Stubbs Distinguished Service Award.

Additionally, the Blue Ridge Bar Association is pleased to announce the Law Day Speaker will be the Honorable Judge John J. Ellington of the Georgia Court of Appeals. Judge Ellington became one of the youngest trial court Judges in Georgia when he was first appointed to the bench in 1991.

He has served on the Court of Appeals since 1999. He is a three-time recipient of the prestigious Distinguished Judicial Service Award, which recognizes outstanding service on the Bench and commitment to improving the practice of law. He has also served in several leadership positions in business, professional, civic and religious organizations.

cropped-logo-header.jpgLauren Keller is an attorney at Thompson, Meier & King, which focuses on family law, criminal law and estate planning. She is a graduate of Florida State University and the University of Georgia School of Law.

Riverfest 2014

photo (2)Thompson, Meier & King, P.C. helped support the Riverfest Arts and Craft Festival this past weekend by entering into the scarecrow competition.  Riverfest is the largest fundraising event for the Service League of Cherokee County. The Service League is a group of 100 woman who volunteer to raise money for underprivileged children of Cherokee County, Georgia. One of our own, Ashley T. Carlile, was accepted into the Service League this year and spent this past weekend volunteering at the event.