As of September 2, 2008, the Minnesota Court of Appeals will refer all family court appeals for mandatory mediation (with some exceptions for cases involving, for example, domestic violence). The program was designed to decrease costs and conflict for families involved in appellate cases while increasing litigant satisfaction.

Upon the filing of a Notice of Appeal, the Court will immediately refer litigants to mediation. Mediators available to serve include a panel of 12 retired judges and/or experienced family law attorneys. Parties will pay the costs of the mediation on a sliding fee scale.

This pilot program was initiated three years ago as the result of a meeting between Judge Harriet Lansing and William Mitchell College of Law Vice Dean for Academic Programs Nancy Ver Steegh. Ver Steegh is known for her work in the area of family law and alternative dispute resolution, and serves as an Editor for the Family Law Professor Blog. The Chief Judge of the Minnesota Court of Appeals, Edward Touissant, believes the program is here to stay, calling it a “win-win” situation.

A few other states have adopted similar programs, with a resolution rate as high as 76 percent. That’s an impressive statistic, given the adversarial mindset of litigants – especially following a trial.

We’ve seen clients benefit from the trend toward resolving family disputes through mediation.   This new mandatory appellate mediation might just result in additional justification for working with a mediator in the very early stages of litigation and avoiding unnecessary fees, costs, time and emotion.

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Photo of Jason C. Brown Jason C. Brown

“I used to handle commercial litigation downtown, but it wasn’t very fulfilling. As Minnesota family law attorneys we have the privilege of helping people during one of the most challenging times they will face. This stuff really matters to our clients – and…

“I used to handle commercial litigation downtown, but it wasn’t very fulfilling. As Minnesota family law attorneys we have the privilege of helping people during one of the most challenging times they will face. This stuff really matters to our clients – and to us. We take pride in helping people move forward with their lives.”

Jason founded the Brown Law Offices, P.A. He has received national media attention for his work in the area of divorce and family law.

Jason Brown founded the Brown Law Offices, P.A., after clerking for the (now retired) Chief Judge of Minnesota’s Tenth Judicial District. He is an experienced trial lawyer, who handled a wide variety of cases (including civil commitment, criminal defense, probate, personal injury and commercial litigation) early in his career.

Today, Jason’s practice is dedicated exclusively to divorce and family law matters. He has successfully litigated against some of the more recognized family law attorneys in the Twin Cities. He has been named a “Super Lawyer” by Thomson Reuters, and one of the Top 100 Family Law Attorneys in Minnesota by the Society of Legal Advocates.

Jason is the former chairperson of the Family Law Section of the Minnesota Trial Lawyer’s Association, and taught divorce and family law coursework within the paralegal program at North Hennepin Community College. He publishes the Minnesota Family Law Blog, which has been recognized as a “Top 25″ by the Minnesota State Bar Association.

Local media appearances by Jason include WCCO Radio, KARE 11 Television, Fox 9 Television and WCCO Television. His national media appearances include NBC News, Time Magazine, USA Today and the Huffington Post.

Jason obtained his B.S., magna cum laude, from Minnesota State University, Mankato, and his J.D., cum laude, from the William Mitchell College of Law in St. Paul. While in law school Jason was a published staff writer and associate editor for the William Mitchell Law Review.

In addition to his work as a lawyer, Jason serves as a mediator, and court-appointed early neutral evaluator, in divorce and family law cases throughout Minnesota.

Outside of the office, Jason plays the bass guitar and serves on the Board of Directors at Northgate Church. He and his wife, Cynthia, also an attorney, have two boys.