When Riverside attorney Joseph P. Myers went to law school in the late 1960s, he recalled there were no courses in mediation. Civil litigation lawyers were expected to be warriors in court.
Now Myers is one of about 90 attorneys in the Riverside County court's alternative dispute resolution program, committed to getting cases settled by a sort of diplomatic shuttling between parties to see if they can reach an agreement.
"It is not easy, going from protecting clients' interests and beating the other side to suggesting compromises" when he is called from his trial lawyer work to act as a mediator, Myers said.
While the program is not quite a year old, and not enough numbers have returned to define how it is doing, participating lawyers such as Myers say it is making a big difference in Riverside's once-jammed civil courts.
The mediation program began in April 2009, just as the Riverside County courts started moving civil cases more quickly to trial after years of backlog while criminal cases were heard in civil courts.
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Court Works to Encourage Settlements