Attorney E. Steven Coren conducted Probate and Family Court Conciliation Training for the Norfolk and Middlesex Bar Associations on October 23, 2015. Steve has 40 years of experience representing clients in divorce and family issues, probate litigation and personal injury cases. He is an approved mediator for the Middlesex and Norfolk Probate and Family Courts where he is appointed to mediate divorce actions and probate disputes.
About the Conciliation Program of the Bar Association of Norfolk County
As of July 1, 2013 the Bar Association of Norfolk County has implemented a Conciliation Program in accordance with Supreme Judicial Court Rule 1:18 (Uniform Rules on Dispute Resolution), which will provide court-connected dispute resolution services to the Probate and Family Court in Norfolk Division. Free trainings are scheduled on a periodic basis for interested attorneys to become certified to participate in the Conciliation Program. Attorneys interested in this pro bono program and seeking certification may telephone Adrienne Clarke at 617-471-9693 for further information.
About the Middlesex County Probate and Family Court Conciliation Program
There were twenty six thousand filings in the Middlesex Probate and Family Court in 2003. The MCBA’s Middlesex Probate and Family Court Conciliation Program was developed to assist the court in handling its burgeoning caseload. The Conciliation Program utilizes approximately 50 MCBA member attorneys who practice in Middlesex County. The list of conciliators includes some of the most respected domestic relations attorneys in Massachusetts, who donate their time, pro bono, to this program. MCBA conciliators have applied their experience and creativity to bring about efficient and equitable solutions, in hundreds of cases to date. Since receiving approval from Chief Justice Sean Dunphy’s office two years ago, the program has helped reduce the backlog of pending cases in the Middlesex Probate & Family Court.
The Conciliation Program benefits all litigants involved with the Middlesex Probate and Family Court. There are no income eligibility guidelines associated with this program and pro se litigants as well as litigants with counsel are eligible to participate at no cost. All conciliators have participated in an eight hour training seminar overseen by the Massachusetts Office of Dispute Resolution. Conciliators have a minimum of three years experience in the subject area of their conciliation and the current average years of experience is over 15 years. In assigning conciliators, the MCBA attempts to utilize conciliators that are in the geographic area of the litigants.
The Conciliation Program is offered to litigants at the time of the Pre Trial Conference. The Presiding Judge informs the parties of the availability of the program and if the parties elect to utilize it, the Judge issues an order sending the case to the Conciliation Program. The Program is administered by MCBA Executive Director Diane Verner. Upon receipt of a conciliation referral from the Court, she assigns a seasoned attorney in the specific area of law at issue, e.g. divorce, probate, custody, estates, etc. The conciliator meets with the parties and/or counsel in an attempt to resolve the outstanding issues and potentially settle the case. Typically conciliations run for two or more hours.
Following a conciliation, the conciliator drafts a conciliation report which is filed with the Court and the MCBA. The parties also complete and return an evaluation questionnaire to provide feedback on the program. Approximately 60 – 70 % of conciliations result in a settlement which ends the litigation process. Cases that do not settle are referred back to the Probate Court for trial. For more information about the program, please contact MCBA Executive Director Diane Verner at (781) 939-2797.