In 1999, the Court launched a mediation program for pro se employment discrimination cases. Pursuant to the program's mandate, pro bono attorneys volunteer to represent pro se plaintiffs solely for the purposes of the mediation. Participating in the Court's mediation program provides attorneys with excellent experience in persuasive writing and oral advocacy, client relations, and negotiation skills. If you are interested in volunteering, please contact your firm's pro bono coordinator, or Margaret Malloy, Chief Counsel to the Office of Pro Se Litigation, at (212) 805-0181.
Mediations are generally conducted before mediators from the Court's mediation panel. The mediator is a neutral third party who directs settlement discussions. All of the Court's mediators are experienced attorneys who have been trained and certified by the Court. Mediations may also be held before the Court's magistrate judges.
Once an attorney agrees to participate in the Court's mediation program, the attorney is responsible for meeting with the client, preparing a mediation statement, and representing the plaintiff in the mediation before a certified mediator or a magistrate judge. The date of the mediation is determined by agreement of all parties once the pro bono lawyer has agreed to represent the plaintiff. The parties usually meet for one session, but if they cannot settle by the end of the first session, and believe settlement is possible, a second session may be scheduled by agreement.
Both parties must consent to the mediation and any settlement they reach. Neither party is required to sign an agreement, and the mediator or magistrate judge does not impose a settlement. If a resolution is reached, the parties will sign a settlement agreement, and the case will be dismissed. If the parties cannot reach a resolution, the pro bono attorney has no obligation to stay on as trial counsel.
For more information, please visit Frequently Asked Questions About Representing a Pro Se Litigant in a Mediation.