July 2015 Bar Bulletin
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July 2015 Bar Bulletin

In the Beginning: Mediation Finds a Home

By Charles Burdell


Mediation began around here about 35 years ago when the Federal Bar Association was formed. A group of attorneys including Bill Ferguson, Al Malanca and Bill Dwyer dreamed up the idea in an attempt to find some solution to the huge backlog of civil cases pending in the local U.S. District Court due to a "longstanding shortage of judges."

After formation and a few meetings, and at the suggestion of Dwyer, the group came up with the idea of experienced civil litigators serving as volunteer mediators to try to settle as many cases as possible. Rule 39.1 was drafted and instituted as a result of this process.

I was somehow dragged into this situation and asked to write an article for the Federal Bar Newsletter explaining mediation and how a volunteer mediator should conduct a mediation. Since mediation was Bill's idea, I asked him to put his ideas in writing to help me with the article.

Richard Yarmuth and I were both partners at Culp, Dwyer, Guterson & Grader at this time. A few days ago, Richard kindly emailed a copy of Bill's memorandum to me, which Richard discovered in an old file. It occurred to me that this might be something to print in the Bar Bulletin for an historical perspective of mediation in the Northwest. I've attached Bill's memorandum. 

MEMORANDUM May 5, 1981

This is in answer to your request for a summary of the method I use as a mediator under Local Rule CR 39.1.

1. The first step is to send a letter to all counsel confirming the appointment of the mediator, confirming the time and place of the mediation session, and reminding counsel of the main things they are required to do under the rule. The following is a suggested form of letter:


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