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Mediation Advocacy: Skills and Best Practices for Taking Off Your Trial Hat

(156 reviews)

Produced on September 23, 2017

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Course Information

Time 1h 15m
Difficulty Beginner
Topics covered in this course: Alternative Dispute Resolution

Course Description

We are living in an era of Alternative Dispute Resolution, with mediation often the first, and increasingly early, stop on a path toward resolving a case short of a verdict or judgment. We are taught to argue and advocate on behalf of our clients. However, some of the skills that serve us in court and trial will not be effective in the conciliatory process of mediation.

This panel, including Justin T. Green, Michael Siboni, Tracey Spencer Walsh, Linda Gerstel, and led by Frederick Alimonti, discusses and dissects the litigation skills that work best in mediation and how to advocate in an environment in which a pure win is neither unattainable nor desirable, but skills of persuasion remain invaluable, if not essential.

Learning Objectives:

  1. Prepare for mediation, including client preparation
  2. Keep cool and know when to extend the “olive branch” and when to “stand pat”
  3. Understand what to reveal and what to withhold: the “smoking gun,” the “slam dunk,” and the “skeleton in the closet”
  4. Set and maintain the right tone
  5. Provide the mediator the tools he/she needs to persuade on your/your client’s behalf
  6. Close the deal: memorializing an agreement that will not collapse later

This course originally appeared as a part of our September 2017 Bridge the Gap Event. 

Credit Information

After completing this course, Lawline will report your attendance information to {{ accredMasterState.state.name }}. Please ensure your license number is filled out in your profile to ensure timely reporting. For more information, see our {{ accredMasterState.state.name }} CLE Requirements page . After completing this course, {{ accredMasterState.state.name }} attorneys self-report their attendance and CLE compliance. For more information on how to report your CLE courses, see our {{ accredMasterState.state.name }} CLE Requirements FAQ .


Linda Gerstel

Anderson Kill P.C.

Linda Gerstel is of counsel at Anderson Kill, based in the firm's New York and Stamford offices.

Ms. Gerstel is a general civil litigator who has represented clients in a broad variety of practice areas including, contractual disputes, employment and partnership issues, real estate litigation, trusts and estates litigation, creditor's rights, insurance coverage litigation, as well as class action litigation.

Ms. Gerstel also practices in the area of Alternative Dispute Resolution. She is on the panel of Arbitrators of the American Arbitration Association Complex Commercial Cases. She is also on the CPR (International Institute for Conflict Prevention and Resolution) Arbitrator and Mediator Panel and the CPR ADR Employment Panel. She has mediated many commercial disputes. In addition, she is on a number of Court Rosters of mediators, including, the Southern District of New York and the New York Commercial Division Panel and the American Arbitration Association Storm Sandy Panel. She has been appointed by the Southern District of New York to the Mediation Advisory Committee which assists with mentoring and evaluating mediators, and acts as an informal ethics committee on mediation matters. She has also taught seminars on Arbitration with Fordham Law School Professors at The Catholic University in Ghana. She is an Adjunct Professor at Fordham University School of Law where she teaches classes on ADR.

In class action litigation, Ms. Gerstel has represented plaintiff Holocaust survivors in a landmark class action lawsuit against European insurance companies seeking proceeds of life insurance policies purchased between 1920 and 1945. In addition, Ms. Gerstel was involved in other class actions against German and Austrian enterprises including banks involving claims of forced labor and confiscation of property. She has also represented claimants in litigation against a major oil company in connection with violations of human rights in the Sudan.

Ms Gerstel has also acted as a general counsel to middle market companies and non-profit institutions advising those clients on a broad range of business law issues involving all aspects of their operations.

In trust and estate litigation, she has been involved in numerous contested surrogate court proceedings involving all aspects of trust and estate practice, including complex matters involving actions against trustees for breach of fiduciary duties, guardianship matters, will contest proceedings, kinship matters and accountings. She has also served as a Court appointed fiduciary.

Frederick Alimonti

Alimonti Law Offices, P.C.

Founder and Senior Partner Rick Alimonti brings over twenty years of aviation and insurance litigation experience to the firm. His experience includes product liability, airline law, general aviation, and aviation insurance coverage. Martindale-Hubble lists Mr. Alimonti as an “AV” peer-reviewed lawyer, the highest rating awarded by the organization. 

Mr. Alimonti is a member of the Southern District of New York’s mediation panel and has been appointed to the SDNY Mediator Advisory Committee. He is a member of the Alternative Dispute Resolution section of the American Bar Association and of the Dispute Resolution Section of the New York State Bar Association. He founded Alimonti Mediation Services in 2012 to mediate disputes involving product liability, premises liability, aviation law and commercial disputes. Rick recently became affiliated with “Mediators Plus More,” a New York-based panel of private mediators that matches mediator expertise and experience to the dispute at issue. http://mediatorsplusmore.com/.

Alimonti Law Offices is a frequent provider of CLE-accredited programs in the United States and abroad. In June 2014, Mr. Alimonti was a panelist at the ABA National Institute on Aviation Litigation and presented “Trying not to Stress the Small Stuff, Tips on the Effective Handling of Non-Catastrophic Aviation Cases” and was also a panelist at the 48th Annual SMU Airlaw Symposium in Dallas, Texas, where he presented “Ethics in Negotiation and Mediation.” In June 2013, Mr. Alimonti was a panelist on ethical issues at the ABA Aviation Litigation Seminar in NYC. In June 2012, Mr. Alimonti presented “Defending and Managing Claims involving Unruly Passengers” at the ACI Conference in Boston, MA. In 2011, he presented a paper at the ABA Section of Litigation, Joint Committee Meeting in Snowmass, Colorado, and he presented “Ethics in Aviation Litigation” at the 2011 SMU Air Law Symposium and at the 2011 Aviation Litigation CLE Seminar at the NYC Bar Association. 

Mr. Alimonti’s academic contributions to the field of aviation law include the formation and launch of the American Bar Association’s highly successful first Annual Seminar on Aviation Litigation in 1995. This program continues as an annual institution in New York to this day. Mr. Alimonti has twice served as chair of the ABA’s Aviation Litigation Committee. His positions include:

  • Co-chair of the ABA Litigation Section’s Standing Committee on Aviation Litigation for three-year term (1995 -1998; August 2007 - 2009) 
  • Meeting Chair, ABA CLE on Aviation Litigation, New York (2006, 2007, 2010)
  • Member, Task Force on the Public Perception of the Legal Profession (2004-2007)
  • Co-chair of the ABA, Litigation Section’s Standing Committee on Solo and Small Firms (2001-2004)
  • Division Co-Director for the ABA Litigation Section (2001)
  • Litigation Section’s Co-Chair for the ABA Annual Meeting in New York (2000) 

Mr. Alimonti is a regular speaker on aviation law, mediation and ethics. He has presented and published numerous articles including the following:


  • “Trying not to Stress the Small Stuff, Tips on the Effective Handling of Non-Catastrophic Aviation Cases”, delivered at ABA National Institute on Aviation Litigation, New York, NY (2014)
  •  “Ethics in Negotiation and Mediation” delivered at 48th Annual SMU Airlaw Symposium in Dallas, Texas, (2014)  
  • “Defending and Managing Claims Involving Unruly Passengers”, delivered at ACI Conference on Defending and Managing Aviation Litigation, Boston MA (June 2012)
  • “Fighting Fire with Water, Dealing with Difficult Adversaries” (Litigation, Fall 2008)
  • “Ethical Hurdles Along the Way: Ethical Issues when Representing an Insured in an Aviation Case” (ABA 2007)
  • Columnist: Young Lawyer’s Corner. Aviation Litigation Quarterly (ABA 2006-2008)
  • “Who’s in Charge Here Anyway? Ethical Issues When Representing an Insured,” THE BRIEF, VOL 36, NO. 2 (WINTER 2007)

Mr. Alimonti received his Bachelor of Arts degree from Fordham University and his Juris Doctor from St. John’s University Law School. He is admitted to practice in the State of New York, the U.S. District Courts for the Southern, Eastern, and Northern Districts of New York, and the U.S. Courts of Appeals for the Second, Fourth, and Eleventh Circuits. He serves as the President of the Board of Trustees for the New Jersey Aviation Hall of Fame and Museum at Teterboro, New Jersey and is a private pilot. 

Justin T. Green

Kreindler & Kreindler LLP

Justin Green joined Kreindler & Kreindler LLP in 1997 and became a firm partner in January of 2003. He focuses his practice on helping families of aviation disaster victims, but also represents victims of other transportation accidents and mass torts.

As an aviation lawyer, Justin has successfully represented families in major aviation cases. These include major airline disasters, corporate airplane and helicopter accidents, civil airplane and helicopter accidents and aviation accidents that have taken the lives of our servicemen and women. He has authored numerous articles on aviation, products liability and wrongful death law.

A guest lecturer on aviation law at Fordham Law School, Justin has also spoken on aviation law and aviation safety at numerous professional conferences. He edits the leading treatise on U.S. aviation law: Kreindler, Aviation Accident Law published by Lexis/Nexis. Many newspapers and news programs have asked him to comment on aviation safety issues and to speak on the rights of aviation disaster victims.

Justin uses the skills he developed as an aviation lawyer to represent victims of other transportation accidents and the victims of corporate wrongdoing.

Martindale-Hubbell lists Justin as an “AV” peer-reviewed lawyer which is the highest rating awarded by the organization. Law & Politics, a publication of Key Professional Medial Inc., has named him a “Super Lawyer” since 2009.

Justin is a member of the American Association for Justice, where he is the immediate past chair of the aviation section. He belongs to the American Bar Association, where he served as vice-chair of the Torts and Insurance Practice’s aviation section, and as a member of the Air & Space Law Section. He is a board member of the New York State Trial Lawyers Association, and he is a member of New York’s Federal Bar Council and the New York City Bar Association, where he serves on the aeronautics committee.

Justin learned to fly in the United States Marine Corps and served as his squadron’s aviation safety officer after graduating from the Naval Postgraduate School’s aviation safety program. He was responsible for his squadron’s aviation safety, and also for investigating accidents. He holds an airplane and helicopter commercial license from the Federal Aviation Administration; he is instrument-rated and has flight time in many different airplanes and helicopters.

He graduated from Union College in Schenectady, New York, and earned his law degree from Fordham Law School in New York City.

Justin is the Vice-Chair of Kid’s Club of Tarrytown & Sleepy Hollow, which supports children in need (http://www.kidsclubtarrytown.org). He supports the Semper Fi Fund which provides financial support for injured members of our military and their families (http://www.semperfifund.org).

Michael Siboni

Siboni, Buchanan & McLean, PLLC

Michael C. Siboni has been a trial lawyer since 1981. He is a founding shareholder of Siboni, Buchanan & McLean, a litigation firm located in Ocala, Florida. He has focused his practice on complex litigation in the areas of aviation, product liability, personal injury, wrongful death, commercial transactions, insurance and equine law in both State and Federal Courts. Mr. Siboni is certified by the Florida Supreme Court as a Circuit and County Civil Mediator. Additionally, he is a Federal Court Mediator and Supreme Court qualified as an Arbitrator.

His significant experience litigating civil matters instills confidence in his clients during the mediation process. As such, Mr. Siboni has earned the reputation as an effective and skillful mediator who has been selected as a neutral by the most prestigious law firms throughout the State of Florida as well as nationally. He employs a combination of facilitative and evaluative mediation, supplemented by his 31 years experience as a litigator. His background, experience and skill make him a highly effective mediator with a solid record of resolving disputes.

Mr. Siboni maintains an “AV” rating by the Martindale-Hubbell Law Directory, the highest attorney rating as voted by peers in the legal community for an attorney with very high to preeminent legal ability and ethical standards and has gained inclusion in the Bar Register of Preeminent Lawyers. Since its inception in 2006 through 2012, Thomson Reuters has recognized him as a Florida “Super Lawyer” ranking him in the top 5% of his peers. Additionally, he was selected as a Charter Fellow of the Litigation Counsel of America. LCA is a trial lawyer honorary society comprised of experienced and effective litigators throughout the United States who have exhibited accomplishment in litigation and trial work, and have superior ethical reputations. Fellowship in the LCA is limited and by invitation only and represents less than one-half of one percent of American lawyers.

Mr. Siboni is a member of the Florida Bar and is licensed to practice before the United States Supreme Court, United States Court of Appeals, Fifth and Eleventh Circuits and the United States District Court, Southern, Middle and Northern Districts of Florida.

Professional memberships include: The Florida Bar, American Bar Association, Marion County Bar Association, Florida Academy of Professional Mediators, Lawyer-Pilots Bar Association, D.R. Smith Inns of Court, Co-Founder, American Academy of Alternative Dispute Resolution (LCA).

Tracey Spencer Walsh

Spencer Walsh Law, PLLC

Tracey Spencer Walsh is a 1994 graduate of the Fordham University School of Law and has also taught the “Special Education Law" course as an Adjunct Law Professor at Fordham Law School. Tracey also is the Co-Founder and Vice Chair of the New York State Bar Association's Committee on Special Education.

Tracey has litigated and settled hundreds of IDEA cases for private school tuition reimbursement on behalf of students with disabilities, such as autism, Down syndrome, genetic disorders, learning disabilities, and emotional disturbance. Tracey has also been successful in cases involving compensatory education.

Tracey also is experienced in arguing sophisticated special education law appeals in federal courts, including in the Circuit Courts of Appeals. Tracey is admitted to practice in New York and Connecticut and also is admitted to the U.S. District Courts for the Southern and Eastern Districts of New York, the Second and Eleventh Circuit Courts of Appeals, and the United States Supreme Court.

Tracey successfully argued R.K. v. New York City Dept of Educ. before the Second Circuit Court of Appeals, helping to define the limits of the “due deference” doctrine in New York, Connecticut and Vermont. Tracey also argued before the Eleventh Circuit in R.L. v. Miami-Dade County School Board in a case of first impression in the Eleventh Circuit involving the issue of"predetermination." In R.L. Tracey successfully argued that the school district denied R.L. a free appropriate public education ("FAPE") when it illegally predetermined the student's placement - an issue that had never been decided before by the Eleventh Circuit (which includes Florida, Georgia and Alabama).

Among numerous decisions in favor of students, Tracey also is responsible for a decision ordering the New York City Department of Education to not only “include” a student with Down Syndrome in a mainstream classroom but to hire an “inclusion specialist” and an independent Board Certified Behavior Analyst.

Tracey is widely published on a variety of special education law issues, including tuition reimbursement, funding for home services, and bullying. In addition to her writing, Tracey often is a featured speaker at national special education conferences as well as the annual conferences sponsored by the Council of Parent Attorneys and Advocates (COPAA). Tracey has given presentations at COPAA's conferences and the Independent Educational Consultants' Association (IECA) conferences

Tracey has also worked on many pro bono matters, including amicus briefs filed on behalf of Autism Speaks. Tracey assisted with an exciting and important amicus brief on behalf of Autism Speaks - Ermini v. Vittori. This case involved a custody dispute under the Hague Convention. A couple, citizens of Italy came to the United States so that their son with autism could access applied behavior analysis ("ABA") intervention. The couple separated and the father returned to Italy and sought the court's intervention to return the children to him in Italy. The Second Circuit ruled that the child could remain in the United States with his mother so that he could continue his autism intervention through which he was making progress. Tracey is listed as a resource on the Autism Speaks website.


Kenneth T G.

Excellent panel; moderator asked tough questions.

Andrew W.

This was possibly the best CLE course I have ever taken. It provided serious, practical advice to both advocates and mediators. The panelists were experienced in their fields, and helped me understand the process more.

Sheila R.

Excellent format. Panel was knowledgeable

Daniel C.

This is my favorite kind of panel. Fast paced. Every participant is a qualified contributor. Moderator was on top of his game and moved things along crisply. Yay.

Stephen K.

Very, very interesting.

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