Revisions to Rule 39.1

By: Judy Mikel, WAMS Senior Attorney

Under the Local Rules of practice for civil proceedings before the United States District Court for the Western District of Washington, LCR 39.1 addresses Alternative Dispute Resolution. A number of WAMS panel members are on the court’s register of attorney neutrals. Interesting changes were made to LCR 39.1 in late 2012, including the following:

Participation in ADR is no longer mandatory. The court may order participation, but it is otherwise voluntary. LCR 39.1(a). The register of attorney neutrals now requires that the neutral have a physical office within the geographic boundaries of the Western District of Washington. LCR 39.1(b).

LCR 39.1 now includes a process for parties to request a pro bono mediator and requires mediators on the court’s register to accept at least one pro bono appointment per year, if requested to do so, or risk removal from the register. LCR 39.1(b). Also, if the parties do not agree on a mediator from the court’s register, they may select any mediator they wish and adopt their own process. LCR 39.1(c).

Rule 39.1 previously required a conference call to be set up by plaintiff between mediator and counsel. The revised rule now indicates the mediator ‘may’ arrange an initial conference call. LCR 39.1(c).

Although not defined, the rule now requires good faith participation. LCR 39.1(c).

This rule was last revised in 2009. The change from mandatory to voluntary is significant and attorneys practicing in federal court will likely take advantage of the pro bono obligation.

____________________________________________________________________________________________________________

WAMS Certified 39.1 Mediators

Monte Bersante     John Cooper

Michelle Corsi     Pat Duffy

Cliff Freed     Harry Goldman

Tom Harris     Scott Holte

Bill Joyce     Margo Keller

Don Kelley     Larry Levy

Cynthia Morgan     Michele Sales

Kathleen Wareham

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