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Dispute Resolution Center opens in Waynesboro

Attorneys seek to provide a cheaper and faster way to work through disagreements

Attorneys seek to provide a cheaper and faster way to work through disagreements

November 07, 2009|By JENNIFER FITCH

WAYNESBORO, Pa. -- A group of Waynesboro attorneys has created a service they say can be more confidential, less expensive and faster for people working through disagreements.

After being in planning stages for most of the year, the Franklin County Dispute Resolution Center opened a week ago. Private mediation and counseling is available for disputes in a variety of categories, including child custody, divorce property, boundary, contract and landlord-tenant.

"It could give people a little more control of their case than litigation," co-founder Clint Barkdoll said.

Barkdoll said he and colleague Stephen Kulla saw a need for an alternate form of mediation because of their work as lawyers. Attorney Annie Gomez joins them as mediators at the center.

Outside counselors and experts can be brought in as necessary, Barkdoll said.

"We really see it as supplemental to court," he said, saying the service can combine mediation with the legal requirements to memorialize agreements.

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"We believe the idea of mediation or arbitration is often a better option for many people going through a difficult process, such as divorce," Kulla said in a statement.

In some cases, such as child custody, reaching a private agreement can give the parties more control than a judgment, Barkdoll said. Alternative dispute remediation centers have been around for years, but are more common in metropolitan areas, he said.

Barkdoll said his law firm -- Kulla, Barkdoll, Ullman & Painter -- consulted with similar businesses across the state and nation to learn about the best practices.

"We really do feel this could be something that's good for the people in the community," Barkdoll said.

Appointments generally are available from 8 a.m. to 5:30 p.m., but evening ones can be scheduled as needed.

"It only works if both or all parties are agreeing to go this route," Barkdoll said.

For more information, call 717-762-1167 or go to www.fcdrc.com.

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