How the Lawyer-To-Lawyer Dispute Resolution Program Works
Step 1: A lawyer involved in a dispute with another lawyer may start this process by filing a Notice of Dispute and Request for Facilitation form with the program administrator at The Missouri Bar. Under some circumstances, a dispute may be referred by the Office of Chief Disciplinary Counsel.
Step 2: A file will be opened within the program and all parties will be asked to voluntarily sign the Agreement for Facilitation to attempt to resolve the dispute.
Step 3: Upon receipt of written consent from all parties, the administrator will assign the matter to a neutral facilitator working within the program after checking for conflicts. The facilitators and arbitrators are members of The Missouri Bar who voluntarily offer their services to this program in service to the members of the Bar. The parties may challenge the assigned neutral within 10 days after being assigned. Only one peremptory challenge is permitted.
Step 4: The neutral facilitator will contact the parties to more clearly determine the nature of the dispute and the parties’ positions in order to promote a better understanding of the issues to assist with meaningful suggestions for resolving the dispute.
Step 5: A meeting with the parties will be scheduled as soon as possible. It is anticipated that the meetings will be held in neutral sites as assigned by the administrator’s office. The parties’ may be represented by counsel at their expense during the meeting(s). The neutral’s role is to promote communication and suggest ways to resolve the dispute; the neutral will not impose a settlement on the parties.
Step 6: Follow up sessions may be scheduled, if necessary, by mutual agreement.
Step 7: (If applicable) If an agreement is reached, the neutral will assist the parties in reducing their agreement to writing.
Step 8: (If applicable) If the parties do not reach an agreement, the facilitator will assist the parties with developing criteria for a binding arbitration hearing provided all parties are willing to go forward with arbitration.
Step 9: (If applicable) A binding arbitration hearing may be held within this program or the parties may choose another alternative. If the parties choose this program for binding arbitration, another facilitator will be assigned to arbitrate the matter.
Step 10: The matter will be closed if one of the parties does not consent to facilitation, does not agree to binding arbitration if an agreement has not been reached in facilitation, if the matter has been resolved following facilitation, or when a binding arbitration award has been filed with the administrator’s office.
What is the cost to use this program?
This program is a member benefit; there is no cost to use the services of this program. Grateful appreciation is given to the volunteer facilitators and arbitrators who generously donate their services.
Is this program confidential?
The proceedings within the program are confidential. However, volunteer facilitators are obligated to report serious ethical violations pursuant to Supreme Court Rule 4-8.3. When the matter has been reported by the Office of Chief Disciplinary Counsel, a final report is made to that office when the matter is closed.