Los Angeles Bankruptcy Mediation Services

Many of the U. S. Bankruptcy Courts have wholeheartedly embraced mediation as a way to achieve the peaceful resolution of bankruptcy disputes. Most of my experience has been connected with the Bankruptcy Court which serves the Central District of California, including Los Angeles, Orange, Riverside and Ventura Counties. This has been a well-administered program led by Judge Barry Russell whose deep commitment to the settlement process has advanced Alternative Dispute Resolution.

Though Bankruptcy practice is a highly specialized area of law, requiring knowledge of the Federal-based Bankruptcy Law, established in the U. S. Constitution and implemented through the Bankruptcy Code and cases that have been litigated, proper practice before the Bankruptcy Courts also requires an understanding of the interplay between the Code and various state laws. For the practitioner, this is a highly technical practice in which study provides a sound foundation, but practice before the Bankruptcy Courts provides the essential experience to develop competence.

I began practice in the Bankruptcy Courts in or about 1980, a time when a new Bankruptcy Code was implemented. For about 25 years, I represented debtors in consumer bankruptcy cases, creditors bringing actions against debtors, occasionally a debtor in Chapter 11 reorganization and creditors’ committees in reorganization cases. Litigation in the Bankruptcy setting differs from that found in the state courts in terms of its efficiency and focus on solutions or remedies– not always good ones. But there are a number of opportunities for the resolution of disputes between debtors and their creditors, among various creditors, and among committees disputing with debtors and their creditors.

Knowing that most cases must be settled before trial, the commitment of the Bankruptcy Courts in which I have worked to employ mediation concepts to bring resolution to often highly emotional cases has in my view been a wise effort. Bankruptcy is a place where opportunities to open dialogue, identify solutions and seek collaborative resolution for economic failures – whether in business or consumer cases – uniquely benefit from the employment of an experienced mediator.

A recent case demonstrated for me the necessity for employment of knowledgeable and experienced bankruptcy practitioners as mediators, if – and it is an important if – they understand that mediation is more than a mere settlement conference. It is an opportunity to build a relationship. Counsel need to prepare for mediation in the same manner they must prepare for trial. It is the failure of preparation that leads parties to made excessive concessions on the one hand or on the other, to fail to resolve a matter reasonably when the opportunity is ripe. In the recent case of which I speak, not only was there a lack of adequate preparation by counsel, there was a limited understanding of Bankruptcy practice which lead to a failure of settlement at a time when all of the elements to warrant a reasonable settlement were obvious. Fortunately, most cases in which I have been engaged as mediator, counsel and parties are amenable to reasonable solutions.

Some of the qualities that I bring to Bankruptcy Court mediation are:

  • Experience and knowledge of the rules and law applicable to matters
  • Confidence in the ability of parties to fashion reasonable solutions when presented with sufficient information and understanding
  • A deep respect for the capabilities of knowledgeable counsel to provide superior outcomes to clients who rely on them for expertise and advice
  • Patience

Call for a free BK mediation consultation (818) 368-0444.

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