Posted by Mary Wimberley on 2007-02-19

The Cumberland Community Mediation Center (CCMC) at Samford University's Cumberland School of Law has received grants totaling $14,000 to assist and enhance its mediation programs.

Monies include a $10,000 grant from the Alabama Law Foundation and a $4,000 grant from the Alabama Supreme Court Commission on Dispute Resolution.

The Law Foundation grant will help the CCMC increase its roster of trained volunteer mediators to 80 during 2007, expand services provided to Jefferson County Family Court, and launch a pilot program with St. Clair County District Court.

The Supreme Court funds will be used to support the on-going recruiting and training of volunteer mediators to serve in Jefferson County Family Court and St. Clair County District Court.

The Center currently has a list of 25 available trained mediators. Mediators are volunteer attorneys, law students and community members, all of whom have been trained by the CCMC.

The CCMC mediates disputes between family members, neighbors, friends or roommates at no charge. All mediations are confidential.

"Additionally, landlord/tenant disagreements, consumer/merchant disputes involving services, goods, repairs and other topics are some of the issues the Center will mediate," said Cassandra W. Adams, CCMC director.

The Jefferson County Family Court project that was launched in September has resulted in more than 30 cases that went to mediation rather than trial.

A trained mediator, says Adams, provides an invaluable assistance to persons on both sides of a dispute. Mediation gives parties the opportunity to fully participate in resolving their own dispute, and also helps the judicial process.

"For each case mediated, the court docket is relieved of hearing that case, and parties don't have to wait, sometimes more than six months, to have their case heard in court," said Adams.

According to Cumberland dean John L. Carroll, the CCMC serves a dual purpose at the law school.

"Our goal is for the Center to provide mediation services to help resolve disputes between organizations and parties who cannot afford the services of a paid mediator while greatly expanding the mediation training of our students," said Carroll.

Adams and Carroll co-teach a mediator practice course that teaches mediation skills to Cumberland students. In January, the CCMC held a dispute resolution training for Samford's office of residence life.

Samford is a leading Christian university offering undergraduate programs grounded in the liberal arts with an array of nationally recognized graduate and professional schools. Founded in 1841, Samford is the 87th-oldest institution of higher learning in the United States. Samford enrolls 5,791 students from 49 states, Puerto Rico and 16 countries in its 10 academic schools: arts, arts and sciences, business, divinity, education, health professions, law, nursing, pharmacy and public health. Samford fields 17 athletic teams that compete in the tradition-rich Southern Conference and ranks 6th nationally for its Graduation Success Rate among all NCAA Division I schools.