I recently sat in the District Court in Westminster waiting for my client's case to be called. The presiding judge was hearing a contract case involving a storage lot and one of its customers that was behind in his monthly storage payments. At the conclusion of all the evidence and before the judge was about to reluctantly render a verdict in favor of the plaintiff, the litigants advised the court they were interested in settling the case. The court advised them she was unable to assist them in settling the matter and lamented the fact an ADR volunteer was not available on that day to assist the parties. The judge saw me sitting in the crowd and, sensing her desire to have the litigants settle the matter before her, I rose from my seat in the crowd and volunteered to serve as a settlement conference attorney for the case. I spent some time with both parties and they reached a settlement that satisfied both of them. The court was extremely pleased with the fortuitous appearance of an ADR volunteer and my ability to conduct a settlement conference so that both litigants left the court feeling good about the result. I then finally tried my client's case. I suppose this is what some call multi-tasking!
*Tim Mullen, a settlement conference attorney since 2008, volunteers in Baltimore City, Baltimore County, and Carroll County.