The mission of the Mediation Program of the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York is to provide quality dispute resolution services at the earliest practicable stage. The program is comprised of mediators with a diverse range of experiences and backgrounds, who share the goals of providing parties with opportunities for supported negotiation, exploration of legal and factual issues, creative thinking, and settlement through mediation. The program is an educational resource for the bench, bar, and larger community about the uses and benefits of mediation and other dispute resolution processes. By creating subject-specific protocols, the program evolves in response to the Court's changing docket. The Mediation Program supports the continuing growth and development of professional mediators, and provides opportunities for observation, training, and evaluation for both experienced neutrals and those newer to mediation practice.

What is Mediation?

  • Mediation is a form of alternative dispute resolution.

  • In mediation, parties and counsel meet, sometimes collectively and sometimes individually, with a neutral third party (the mediator) who has been trained to facilitate confidential settlement discussions.

  • The parties articulate their respective positions and interests and generate options for a mutually agreeable resolution to the dispute.

  • The mediator assists the parties in reaching their own negotiated settlement by defining the issues, probing and assessing the strengths and weaknesses of each party's legal positions, and identifying areas of agreement and disagreement.

  • The main benefits of mediation are that it can result in an expeditious and less costly resolution of the litigation, and can produce creative solutions to complex disputes often unavailable in traditional litigation.

At the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York the Mediation Program is governed by Local Civil Rule 83.9 and the Mediation Program Procedures. All civil cases other than social security, habeas corpus, and tax cases are eligible for mediation, whether assigned to Manhattan or White Plains. The assigned District Judge or Magistrate Judge may determine that a case is appropriate for mediation and may order that case to mediation, with or without the consent of the parties, before, at, or after the initial Rule 16(b) case management conference. Alternatively, the parties should notify the assigned Judge at any time of their desire to mediate.

The Court periodically develops subject-specific case management and ADR protocols and currently has such protocols for: counseled employment discrimination (non-FLSA) cases, certain FLSA cases and certain § 1983 police misconduct claims. The assigned District Judge or Magistrate Judge may issue a written order exempting a particular case with or without the request of the parties.

Post Mediation Surveys & Reports

Attorney Survey
Mediator Report & Survey

Mediators

List of Mediators
Mediation Program Volunteer Application and Instructions

Mediation Diversity Statement
 

Mediation Evaluation Program

Program Introduction
Program Evaluation Forms
City Bar/SDNY ADR Evaluation Program Report

FAQ

Click on a question to see the answer.

If a participant does not speak English, does the Court provide interpreters for mediation?

The Court only provides interpreters for mediation when the plaintiff is the U.S. Government or when an interpreter is required in American Sign Language. In some instances the Mediation Office may be able to locate a panel mediator who is able to mediate in languages other than English. Requests that the office attempt to find a panel mediator with specific language expertise should be made immediately after the parties are ordered to mediation.

Where do mediations take place and how are rooms reserved?

Mediation sessions may take place at the mediator's office, at the Courthouse, or at any other location agreed to by the mediator and the parties. Mediation rooms in the courthouses in Manhattan or White Plans are reserved by Mediation Office staff.

Can I bring my cell phone/computer/electronic device into the Court for mediation?

An attorney with a SDNY Service Pass may bring one electronic device (such as a cell phone or smartphone) into the courthouse. Instructions for obtaining an SDNY Service Pass can be found on the Court's website: http://www.nysd.uscourts.gov/atty_admission under Attorney Services Forms. Attorneys with Service Passes who wish to bring in additional devices such as a tablet or computer must submit an Electronic Device Order. Attorneys without Service Passes who wish to bring in phones or other electronic devices must submit an Electronic Device Order. To insure timely processing, these orders must be submitted to the Mediation Office at least 72-hours before the scheduled mediation.

What if someone needs to reach me while I'm in mediation without my phone?

If someone needs to be reached during mediation they should provide the Mediation Office number (212) 805-0643 to anyone who may need it. This office is staffed from 8:30am - 5:30pm Monday - Friday and mediation staff will promptly relay any messages to mediation participants. The mediation rooms all have phones that mediation participants can use to return calls.

Can people participate in mediation by phone or video conference?

The Mediation Program Procedures require in person attendance in most circumstances. If your case falls within one of the exceptions for in person attendance, or your mediator has agreed to allow participation by phone or video conference, please contact the Mediation Office to make arrangements at least three weeks in advance of your scheduled mediation date.

Can I play a DVD or videotape in mediation?

Yes. Please contact the Mediation Office at least three weeks in advance of your scheduled mediation date to request the appropriate equipment. You should also provide your mediator with the footage so that it can be viewed in advance of the mediation.

How are mediators selected?

Mediators are randomly selected by the Mediation Office from a list of panel mediators who have the subject matter and/or mediation expertise that is relevant to a particular case.

Is there a transcript or can I record mediation sessions?

No. Mediation sessions are confidential. Any exceptions to confidentiality are detailed in the Mediation Program Procedures.

Does the Court appoint counsel for pro se (unrepresented) litigants in mediation?

In certain cases the Court will appoint pro bono (free) counsel for pro se (unrepresented) parties only for mediation. Any requests for appointment of counsel should be made to the presiding judge.