As a personal injury lawyer in Houston, TX it’s important to know and work with some of the best Spanish Speaking Mediators in Houston, TX when it comes to alternative dispute resolution. Living in Houston and other cities in Texas such as San Antonio, Austin, Dallas, Victoria and McAllen it’s important to know impartial mediators that speak Spanish because of the ever-growing Spanish-speaking Latino population in Texas and the United States.
Factors to consider when choosing a Mediator that speaks spanish
Well, it goes without saying that when it comes to choosing a Spanish-speaking mediator you should have a mediator that speaks Spanish fluently. This is important if the lawyer doesn’t speak or isn’t fluent in Spanish because mediators that mediate civil cases in Houston, Texas and other Texas cities such as Austin and San Antonio, Victoria can thoroughly explain the legal complexities and risks of litigation and proceeding to trial on a client’s lawsuit.
Translating complex and technical legal terms from English to Spanish should not be the responsibility of a paralegal, legal assistant or non-professional. It should be done by an attorney familiar with the litigation process, trial and mediation. This is why it’s a great idea to use a mediator that can explain the process to your clients in the language they are comfortable.
There are several other factors that must be considered besides whether the mediator speaks Spanish. First and foremost is whether the mediator is fair and ethical. Most successful mediators will be able to check this box if they have been in the mediation business because mediators quickly get a reputation around the courthouse for who is fair and honest.
Another important factor is experience. When I choose a mediator that speaks Spanish for my mediations, I consider whether the mediator has any trial experience and truly understands the risk of litigation. This is invaluable when it comes to explaining to my clients the pros and cons of settling their case or going forward to trial.
What is mediation?
The American Bar Association describes mediation as a private alternative dispute resolution process where a neutral third person called a mediator helps the parties discuss and try to resolve the dispute. The parties have the opportunity to describe the issues, discuss their interests, understandings, and feelings; provide each other with information and explore ideas for the resolution of the dispute.
In Texas, courts regularly order that parties go through an alternative dispute resolution process typically mediation, the process remains “voluntary” in that the parties are not required to come to agreement. The mediator does not have the power to make a decision for the parties, but can help the parties find a resolution that is mutually acceptable. I don’t know of a single civil district judge in Harris County, Bexar County, Travis County or Dallas County that does NOT order cases to be mediated before they can proceed to trial.
The only people who can resolve the dispute in mediation are the parties themselves. There are a number of different ways that a mediation can proceed. Most mediations start with the parties together in a joint session. The mediator will describe how the process works, will explain the mediator’s role and will help establish ground rules and an agenda for the session. Generally, parties then make opening statements.
During the joint session, it is absolutely helpful for mediators who speak Spanish to be able to explain the process in Spanish to clients. When hispanic non-english speaking clients hear the process directly from the mediators in their native language it helps them feel comfortable and sets them at ease.
Mediators in Houston that Speak Spanish
My Houston law firm has worked with several mediators that speak Spanish in Harris County. I can highly recommend three for my Latino clients who only speak Spanish. The first mediator I can recommend is mediator Jose Lopez in Houston, Texas. Jose Lopez was first recommended to me by several insurance adjusters. I was wary at first because he was recommended by so many adjusters but he really works hard to get the case resolved and he has the experience and gray hair that makes Latino clients feel comfortable.
I also recommend Texas mediator Sherra Gilbert. Ms. Gilbert is has been meditating for about a year and has current experience in the civil courts. She is board-certified personal injury trial law and worked for a large insurance defense firm for several years. She is quickly gaining a reputation from both sides of the aisle for fairness and hard work. Even though she looks young in her picture on her website don’t let the picture fool you she doesn’t look that young in person and is very experienced.
As a defense attorney for a major insurance company, I would not be surprised if she participated in hundreds of mediations prior to becoming a mediator. I had a few cases with Sherra Gilbert before she became a mediator and she was no slouch and although a little “bitchy” she was always honest and a straight-shooter.
Another mediator that I highly recommend is Jeff Abrahms. I haven’t seen Mr. Abrahms in quite some time but my clients say he speaks excellent Spanish and I have resolved all the cases that I have mediated with him. He travels abroad to Latin countries to keep his Spanish skills sharp.
All three mediators are active members in the Houston Bar Association in Houston, TX and Harris County. As an attorney-mediator they are all members of the Houston Bar and Texas Bar Association and sit as a board member on several bar association committees. They are also members of the ADR section. They all mediate several types of cases including car accidents, real estate, contracts, and slip and falls etc. They are members in good standing with the State Bar of Texas and the Texas Association of Mediators. I believe they have also volunteered at the Harris County Dispute Resolution Center located in Houston, Texas.
Covid-19 and Zoom mediations
I was skeptical at first regarding my thoughts on alternative dispute resolution and Zoom. I thought the mediation and alternative dispute resolution process would lose some of its efficiency because of the one-on-one personal contact that happens when you are in the same room with a client and the mediator through the day or half-day mediation.
All my zoom mediations have settled successfully and I don’t think that attending via Zoom or teleconference had a negative impact on the value of the case. Because of Zoom these great mediators can expand their dispute resolution and mediation practice to other cities besides Houston, TX. I know they are doing mediations across Texas via Zoom and have done mediations in Austin, Dallas, San Antonio, McAllen, El Paso and other Texas cities.
implications of Zoom & Mediators that habla Espanol
These Texas mediators that speak Spanish already had great reputations and are respected by plaintiff’s attorneys, defense attorneys, and insurance companies. Now with Zoom and these mediators being available to mediate cases in San Antonio, Austin, Dallas and other Texas cities it will just keep getting harder and harder to find an opening on the calendar. This really will increase the need for mediators to be able to speak Spanish in the future.