Denver Bar Association
September 2009
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CAMP Needs You!

by Ashley Kilroy

Can we talk? Often, the answer is no. Joe might rather punch you in the nose or say "see ya in court" than actually sit down and chat about our disagreement.

As attorneys, counselors and problem-solvers, we can show people a better way.

The DBA Court Annex Mediation Program (CAMP) offers mediation services to the civil divisions of the Denver County Courts and Small Claims Courts. These programs are common and growing all over the country — to the point that they are becoming part of the infrastructure of the court systems in some states.

Sponsored by the DBA, this program is run by volunteer attorney and non-attorney mediators. CAMP’s emphasis is on providing excellent mediation services to litigants and their attorneys. The mediators must meet certain requirements and follow specified guidelines to be able to mediate for CAMP and to progress through CAMP’s system. A mentoring program assures that less experienced mediators are trained by experienced mediators for a period of time. Volunteers need a certain number of mediation hours before they can "solo" in the different courts and before they can become lead mediators. CAMP also strives to educate the public, the legal professional and the judiciary about the value of mediation and how it effectively, efficiently and fairly resolves conflict.

Here are three ways CAMP provides a valuable service to our community.

First, CAMP serves a diverse group of litigants who may have had limited experience with the judicial process. Volunteers try to make that first experience a good one and improve the public’s understanding and perception of Denver’s judicial system — and perhaps even improve the public’s view of lawyers! The litigants are offered the opportunity to mediate and are usually very pleased with the efficient and cost-effective alternative to court. They find that mediation is less intimidating than court — mediations are in a conference room and not a courtroom, with very few rules and no legal technicalities.

Second, we hope that mediation through CAMP teaches the litigants the constructive value of talking through their problems. Conflict may be inevitable, but if litigants can craft their own solutions, they are usually more satisfied with the results and more likely to comply with the requirements of the resolution. Perhaps they will use the mediation skills in their everyday lives.

Third, CAMP helps to conserve judicial resources. Valuable court time is saved when cases are settled through mediation. Even if a final resolution is not reached, the mediators help the litigants streamline their issues and be more prepared when they appear in front of the judge. (In 2007, CAMP successfully mediated 80 percent of the cases it handled.)

Finally, CAMP gives inexperienced mediators valuable "table time" under a structured mentorship program. It also allows more seasoned mediators to work in a setting, like the small claims court, where their practice usually doesn’t take them.

Today, CAMP is at a crossroads. We are facing a change in leadership, increasing caseloads, limited funding, and perhaps the possibility of fewer available volunteers due to the economy. But the new team at CAMP will be evaluating the current program to determine if there are ways we can improve it, and developing a strategic plan to guide us through this year.

We hope you’ll help any way you can. Our next meeting is Sept. 21, noon – 2 p.m. at the DBA-CLE offices, 1900 Grant St., Suite 300. You also can learn more about CAMP by going to our website at www.cobar.org/index.cfm/ID/1090/CAAD/CAMP/. We would love to have you join us as a mediator (certification through a 30+ hour mediation training course is a prerequisite) or as an administrative volunteer. Securing adequate funding is also very important to the continued success of CAMP and we welcome financial donations from the community and suggestions regarding possible grant opportunities.

Financial contributions can be sent to CAMP c/o the DBA, 1900 Grant St., ninth floor, Denver, CO, 80203-4336. Thank you for your support of CAMP!


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