DBTC Law Firm

Firm Information

“Let us never negotiate out of fear. But let us never fear to negotiate.” – John F. Kennedy

“Discourage litigation. Persuade your neighbors to compromise whenever you can. Point out to them how the nominal winner is often the real loser — in fees, and expenses, and waste of time. As a peace-maker the lawyer has a superior opportunity of being a good man. There will still be business enough.” – Abraham Lincoln

Mediation has changed the face of litigation in recent years and substantially reduced the costs of resolving legal disputes. What is mediation?

Mediation is a form of conflict resolution involving the use of a mediator or neutral person to facilitate the exchange of information and positions between parties with the ultimate goal of reaching a resolution of the conflict between the parties. The mediator does not decide the case or make any rulings regarding the case, but serves purely as a neutral to help the parties work out the issues in their particular dispute. Mediation is often voluntary but is sometimes ordered by a court. To encourage open discussion, any statements made during the mediation are completely confidential and cannot be used by either party at a later date, such as a trial or hearing. Confidentiality is critical to the mediation process and is further supported by Arkansas statute prohibiting the use of any statements made during the mediation process in subsequent litigation.

The first stage of mediation usually involves a session where the parties meet together with the mediator and are able to openly discuss the facts and circumstances of the case from their respective viewpoints. After the initial opening session with all parties present, the parties typically break into caucuses to meet privately with the mediator. Again, confidentiality is critical and the mediator does not share any statements made by a party in a private caucus with the other parties involved unless he or she has permission to do so. Sometimes the parties will reconvene in additional joint sessions and other times remain in their private caucuses and share information and settlement offers back and forth in an effort to reach common ground. The goal is to reach a settlement agreement between the parties at the end of the day.

Why is mediation successful? Mediation is successful in large part due to the impartial nature of the process which allows the parties themselves to determine how to resolve their case as opposed to a judge or jury deciding the case for them. Thus, the parties are empowered to reach a resolution that is agreeable to them without having another entity dictate the result of their case. The confidentiality is also critical to the success of mediation in allowing parties to share information without fear of that being used against them at a later date. Further, mediation encourages the parties to explore various options and ways to resolve the case and sometimes encourages creative resolutions that could not be considered by a court or jury within the confines of the jury trial system.

The Davis Law Firm is proud to have three certified mediators. Don A. Taylor is certified in the areas of civil and probate litigation, Josh McFadden is certified in the area of civil litigation, and Brian Lester is certified in the area of family law litigation. With these areas of certification, the Davis Law Firm is uniquely positioned to mediate a large range of cases for litigants in an effort to achieve amicable resolutions of disputes.

Lawyers and Mandatory Tithing

Mandatory Rules of Professional Conduct regulate the professional behavior of attorneys. A breach of these rules can lead to sanction and even loss of the right to practice law. They cover many areas of which the public is generally aware, such as avoiding conflicts of interests, being truthful and honest to the court, confidentiality of client information, and declining spurious lawsuits. Less known is the ethical obligation of each lawyer, each year, to contribute at least 50 hours of pro bono publico (free) legal services, as well as to contribute financial support for legal services to persons of limited means.  These contributions ethically required of lawyers’ time approximate at least $7,000 per year in free legal services for  the community and its indigents from each licensed Arkansas attorney. Despite abundant criticisms and jokes of lawyers’ ethics, we are proud that the legal profession may be the only vocation that obliges its members to tithe for the public good. Our firm performs these services in many ways, from assisting indigent clients, to providing service to legal boards, to providing support for the proper regulation and supervision of the practicing bar. Sometimes, these donated services can be quite challenging and  interesting.

An exhaustive list of the pro bono publico services performed by this firm would be too lengthy and boring to recite. But here are some examples of how our firm is proud to serve its ethical obligation to assist the public through its legal abilities:

In order to assure competency of new lawyers, each applicant for a law license, in addition to having a law degree, a clean background and recommendations of good character, must pass an intensive and rigorous examination on the law–the “Bar Examination”–which takes two full days and typically has a passing rate of approximately 80%. The importance of fairly, thoroughly and objectively grading these examinations is obvious. The lawyers who grade the exams are chosen from prominent attorneys throughout Arkansas and appointed for a six-year term as “Bar Examiners” by the Arkansas Supreme Court. Such service requires approximately 80  hours per year of uncompensated time. We are pleased that a member of our firm has served as a Bar Examiner.

The formal, written rules of civil litigation, designed to make it as simple, fair and efficient as possible, require periodic review and updating, ultimately for the benefit of everyone who may find themselves in a civil lawsuit. Updating is accomplished through a select committee of experienced lawyers appointed by the Supreme Court. Our members have served and chaired that committee.

Charitable agencies through Northwest Arkansas are necessarily in the business of raising money to spend for community needs. Every dollar that can be saved in their operational costs is a dollar that goes to the good of the community. Service on the boards of these agencies is specifically included within the ethical requirements for public service where such service saves critical resources for the charity’s purposes. Over the years, various members of our firm have been proud to serve on the boards of organizations such as the Northwest Arkansas Community Foundation, Lifestyles Foundation, Inc., Fayetteville Public Library Foundation, Inc., Habitat for Humanity, Inc., Fayetteville Youth Center, Friends of the Fayetteville Public Library, Washington Regional Hospice Program, Fayetteville Autumnfest, The United Way, Buffalo River Foundation and the Legal Aid Equal Access to Justice Panel.  In that capacity, they provide assistance in drawing bylaws, contracts and other legal documents necessary and helpful to those organizations so that their limited resources can be applied to further community benefit.

Our firm has provided presentations to local charities for the disabled on how special trusts can provide benefits for developmentally challenged individuals without losing the substantial government benefits for their care and training.

The firm, through its members, provides substantial financial support to the Arkansas Equal Access to Justice (Legal Aid) Foundation, and accepts assignments to represent clients for free from both Legal Aid and Arkansas Volunteer Lawyers for the Elderly. Such cases that we have handled for free include these:

  • negotiate the restructure of a mortgage to avoid foreclosure for a gentleman whose divorce, followed by his disability, left him with insufficient funds to pay his current mortgage payments;
  • assist in the adoption, by a grandmother, of a child whose parents were imprisoned drug abusers;
  • represent an unemployed father in a custody battle with the unemployed mother of three young children;
  • represent a single mother/student with young children in her claims against a landlord for wrongfully evicting her in the middle of the winter;
  • assist grandmother in securing guardianship of grandchildren from their drug- addicted daughter to her sister;
  • assist a blind client, whose roommate had stolen his identity, cash and credit, with discharging the resulting fraudulent credit charges and criminally prosecuting the roommate.

Though the performance of these free legal services are mandated under our ethical code of conduct, we find that our firm, through its members, regularly exceeds the obligation to perform such services to our community, and are proud to fulfill these obligations to the excess.

RATINGS AND FINDING A LAWYER

Every client wants the best possible lawyer at the best possible price to represent them.  Unfortunately there is no simple, uniform, universally-accepted system or method for finding or rating a lawyer.  Finding that lawyer, whether it is your first legal engagement, or you are an experienced lawyer looking for assistance in a different locale, can be as difficult as it is important.  However, there are dependable ways to search for proven, effective lawyers.  Using peer review rating systems, online data and old fashioned networking provide reliable means of finding and choosing the right lawyer for you.  The Davis Firm is proud to have significant experience, loyal clients and very high objective peer ratings. Continue reading