First, be willing. All parties to the dispute must agree to mediate. Mediation only works when there is a “good faith” effort on everyone’s part to find mutually agreeable solutions. Mediation never works when there are “I win – you lose” attitudes. If everyone comes to the mediation conference willing to work toward a “win-win” resolution, then no matter how difficult or tense the disagreement, it is possible to settle amicably. Ms. Allison is experienced and very creative. She can use the flexibility of mediation to facilitate workable options not available in court. However, if one of the parties is unwilling to mediate in good faith, settlement is difficult to achieve. If the parties come, willing to communicate through Ms. Allison to arrive at a mutual agreement, they generally can. Your willingness also includes signing the final, written agreement and abiding by it, since it is like a contract.
Second, ask questions. If you do not understand something - a word, a concept, an instruction, a right, an option offered you, a charge on your bill - ask until you do understand. Even if you think that a question will be taken as "stupid" or "naïve" it will not. Ms. Allison is glad to answer your questions and rest assured, you are not the only one asking. You are paying for this opportunity, so ask. (If any mediator will not answer your questions, perhaps you need a new attorney.)
Third, listen. For mediation to succeed, Ms. Allison will bring solution options back and forth between the disagreeing parties. You will need to hear and consider them, rather than just supporting the positions you first brought to the table. In addition, you can listen to the advice of any expert resources brought to the mediation. You are the decision-makers mediating for yourselves. However, you can invite your attorney, financial advisor, CPA, accountant, health professional, social worker, business coach, or any wise and trusted professional you choose to give you advice. With advice from your independent resource person(s), you will have the information you require to make good decisions from among the settlement options Ms. Allison helps you generate. With their input and Ms. Allison’s help to communicate, not only can you determine the goals and priorities needed to achieve desired outcomes, but also you can make your settlement agreement to accomplish that.
Fourth, of course it helps if you make payments promptly. As mentioned above, feel free to question charges you do not understand. Is Gale Allison expensive? No more than someone of her depth of knowledge, experience, and credentials should be. Mediation in general costs a fraction of the money and time of a court procedure and Ms. Allison looks for additional ways to save your expense. Those ways include offering mediations by secure online methods, like Zoom, where possible. When you are able to mediate by secure video conferencing, there are no travel, meeting room, administrative, or food and beverage costs. She also doesn't just let a software program automate billing. When it's time to send bills, she reviews every invoice, removing items that should not be billed to you. She wants you to know what's on your bill and why, so you will know the value you receive.
Fifth, tell the truth. The most effective thing you can do once you have engaged your mediator is to speak up and give details about everything relevant to the issue at hand. Ms. Allison is experienced enough to know what questions to ask. Your information and ultimate agreement are completely confidential. If you don’t declare your wishes or provide full information, you cannot get the outcomes you desire. You will not be judged. Ms. Allison takes no sides and her only goal is for all parties to win, realistically. She is bound by laws that require her to keep anything you share with her confidential.
There are so many legal problems that can happen later when secrets rise up unexpectedly - and they do so, more often than not. Ms. Allison has the experience to know the likely outcomes of exposure and advise you on the best ways to preserve your agreement and your dignity. Tell her the truth.
Adopting these steps will assure that your goals for a lasting solution are met, we have a solid, professional, working relationship, and you get the best mediated settlement possible.
The mediation process with Gale Allison follows certain universal principals, but the way they occur depends on the issues of the mediation.
Pre-Mediation Summary: All mediations begin with a written summary of each party’s position, goals, and needs, as well as supporting documents. Parties submit these to Ms. Allison before the mediation conference, to give her time to know the situation and priorities of each party.
Welcome and Expectations: When the mediation conference begins, Ms. Allison welcomes all parties, explains the steps to mediation, and reinforces everyone’s role in the proceedings as well as the expectations of a mutually agreeable settlement.
Issues and Priorities: Ms. Allison works with the various parties to clarify their individual issues and priorities and assure that everyone agrees on the goals for the outcome.
Negotiations: Once the expectations are set, Ms. Allison moves between the parties taking offers and information back and forth, tweaking it, reforming it as needed, and bringing solution options to each party. As options narrow, Ms. Allison helps the parties refine them to create their own, custom-tailored solution.
Written Agreement: The agreement is set down in writing for each party to read and review, ask questions, get clarification, and then sign.
Signed Agreement: Each party receives a copy of the signed settlement agreement. Ms. Allison further assures confidentiality by destroying her records of the agreement.
These are the basic steps of facilitative mediation, the type of mediation that helps individuals create their own solutions with the communication expertise of a 3rd-party neutral.
Mediation can play out differently depending on the topic to mediate:
Video Conference Mediation
Most mediations can be done via video conference as long as the video platform is secure to protect confidentiality. A few examples are:
- Divorce Mediation does not require face-to-face contact. Parties are in separate rooms (virtual “rooms”, if done on Zoom). Gale Allison moves back and forth carrying information and offers between them. If attorneys are advising, there is a third space for them to work together to advise their clients and do tasks like drafting the final settlement agreement.
- Business Operations Mediation also does not require face-to-face negotiations. In today’s world most businesspeople are accustomed to carrying on business using technology. Again, if the parties have no interest in seeing one another, they can stay in their “rooms” and Ms. Allison will pop in and out taking offers and options back and forth.
- Wills, Trusts, and Inheritance Mediations are quite suitable for video conferencing. It avoids family drama, keeps everything confidential and assures that people do not have to face each other in these emotional and stressful situations.
- Transactional Mediations focus on an exchange of money for goods or services; particularly whether one party or the other found the exchange valuable. This does not require getting together in person.
- Business Succession Mediation means disputes are over who inherits, has a buy/sell, or shares in how a business passes from one generation to the next. Like with Wills and Trusts Mediation, sometimes it is better when the parties are not in close proximity to one another.
In Person Mediation
- Elder and Adult Care Mediation requires all parties including the caregiver(s) and the recipient(s) of care to be in the same physical place. Disputing parties may indeed have to face one another in order to assure the participation and the health and safety of the elderly person or adult with disabilities. This can be draining on people with certain conditions, and may require multiple days to complete the settlement agreement.
- Estate Planning Mediation often requires face-to-face mediation, due to the personal impact on the lives of the people involved in the dispute and often, the frailty of one of more parties.
Choose any or all answers that suit your needs:
- Just plain Know-How: Gale Allison has a national certification to mediate litigated cases (lawsuits) from the prestigious, Pepperdine University, Straus Institute for Dispute Resolution. She is also certified by Pepperdine in the mediation of Elder Care issues, and has been certified by The Mediation Institute to mediate Family and Divorce cases. In addition, she has four decades of ongoing education, knowledge, wisdom and experience in handling matters of business as a founder, owner, and partner. As an attorney, she practiced strictly in the areas of probate, estate and trust administration, estate-related taxes, estate and business succession planning, and estate litigation or dispute mediation.
- Client Service Mission: Ms. Allison’s goal is Let’s Make Peace, and she means a real peace, not the false peace where everyone bites their tongues and seethes inside. Her every effort is to have disputants be heard and their positions and ideas considered. She is skilled in helping people communicate to find their mutual interests. She wants you to rest assured that your dispute will be handled with the highest quality regard for professionalism, confidentiality, accuracy, thoroughness, efficiency, and cost-effectiveness.
- Resourcefulness and Innovation: Her depth and breadth of professional and personal experience and knowledge means that Ms. Allison can help you create unique options for preserving your assets, resolving your issues, and perhaps, saving relationships and brands, along the way.
The relationship between you and your mediator is one of confidence and shared responsibility. You will like some things and might not like others because this is a winding path through the concerns and issues of all parties to the dispute. With Gale Allison between you though, you should expect:
- Mutual respect and professionalism
- Wisdom and insight in the specific area of your need or issue
- Explanations in terms and language you understand
- Prompt responses to your questions and concerns
- Meetings by appointment and Zoom (whichever is best suited for your topic of dispute)
- Accommodation of your ability or preference for tools and technology
- An objective, facilitative approach to communicating through the emotional and practical issues of your dispute.
- To be heard; to have each party’s perspectives and goals considered.
- Confidentiality. We keep your information (and secrets) securely guarded.
- A written, final settlement agreement that holds up, if one or more parties do not comply with its terms.
Ms. Allison believes there is too much strife in this world and that mediation is a way to bring peace to most personal and business disputes. She hopes you will join her in her invitation to Let’s Make Peace as a real and satisfying solution.
Don't confuse your expert witness with an advisor for your case.
Use her expertise in estate matters to educate the court, hearing, or mediation as a whole.
Know that her top-of-the-head knowledge and years of experience can save you countless hours of research and determining probable outcomes.
Understand that she has a gift for explaining legal concepts and processes in simple language that laypeople can grasp.
Be aware that, over her decades-long career, she has experienced a multitude of estate situations and outcomes regarding estate plans, business succession plans, estate or trust administration, probate, estate and gift taxation, and estate litigation.