GaffneyLewis Partner, Amy Gaffney, Accepted into the American Board of Trial Advocates

GaffneyLewis partner Amy Gaffney has been accepted into the American Board of Trial Advocates (ABOTA).

Founded in 1958, ABOTA is a national association of experienced trial lawyers and judges. ABOTA and its members are dedicated to the preservation and promotion of the civil jury trial right provided by the Seventh Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. ABOTA membership consists of more than 7,600 lawyers, equally balanced between plaintiff and defense, and judges spread among 96 chapters in all 50 states and the District of Columbia.

“Amy’s invitation to become a member of the American Board of Trial Advocates is fantastic acknowledgement of her skills and advocacy as a trial lawyer,” said Robert Blain, managing partner of the firm’s Charleston office.

Gaffney, a founding partner working in the firm’s Charleston office, is a litigation attorney representing individuals and some companies throughout the state of South Carolina in employment and tort matters. Gaffney is also a certified mediator and has been involved in the resolution of hundreds of state and federal employment and tort cases. She is also a member of the National Academy of Distinguished Neutrals.



GaffneyLewis is Going Pink for Breast Cancer Awareness

October 1, 2021 – October is Breast Cancer Awareness month and the law firm of GaffneyLewis is going pink to raise awareness and show support for survivors and honor those whose battle has ended.

According to the National Breast Cancer foundation, in 2021, an estimated 281,550 new cases of invasive breast cancer will be diagnosed in women in the U.S. as well as 49,290 new cases of non-invasive (in situ) breast cancer. It is estimated that 1 in 8 women in the United States will be diagnosed with breast cancer in her lifetime. Except for skin cancer, breast cancer is the most common cancer in American women and there are over 3.8 million breast cancer survivors in the United States.

“We all know someone who has breast cancer,” said founding partner Amy Gaffney.  “During October the firm will sponsor or participate in several fundraising events to benefit breast cancer research and to raise awareness of breast cancer. These are several ways we can demonstrate our solidarity and commitment to supporting our breast cancer warriors in-house and in our communities.”

To support the firm’s fundraising efforts click here to donate.



GaffneyLewis Partner, Amy Gaffney, Inducted into National Academy of Distinguished Neutrals

(February 1, 2021) – GaffneyLewis, LLC is pleased to announce that Amy Gaffney has been inducted into the National Academy of Distinguished Neutrals (NADN).

NADN membership is by invitation only and limited to professional mediators and arbitrators who are well established as trusted neutrals among the legal community within their state of practice.  All Academy members have been found to meet stringent practice criteria and are among the most in-demand neutrals in their respective states, as nominated by both peers and litigation firms.

“It’s an honor to be recognized for my mediation practice and included among such highly-regarded mediators,” said Gaffney.

Only 34 attorneys in South Carolina have been accepted in the Academy and Gaffney is the 4th female attorney to be included. Her partner, Regina Hollins Lewis, is also a member, having been inducted in 2019.

Gaffney, a founding partner working in the firm’s Charleston office, has been a certified mediator since 1995 and has been involved in the resolution of hundreds of state and federal employment and tort cases. A litigation attorney, Gaffney also represents individuals and companies throughout the state of South Carolina in employment and tort matters.

Lewis, a founding partner based out of the firm’s Columbia office, is also a certified mediator and regularly mediates employment and tort matters across the state. In addition to her mediation practice, Lewis has over 33 years of civil litigation and appellate experience.



The Basics of Mediation in South Carolina

Civil matters in South Carolina – with limited exceptions – are required to submit to alternative dispute resolution (“ADR”). The most common methods of ADR are mediation and arbitration. Although these two terms are sometimes used interchangeably by laypersons, they are fundamentally different ways of resolving disputes outside of court. It is important to understand the distinctions between mediation and arbitration so you can know what to expect when you engage in ADR.

Mediation is a process by which a neutral third-party – the mediator – facilitates discussion, negotiation, and ideally settlement between the parties. Critical to the process, the mediator does not take sides or make decisions for the parties. Rather, the mediator’s job is to help the parties find common ground, compromise where possible, and achieve a mutually beneficial outcome without going to trial.

On the other hand, arbitration involves a neutral party – the arbitrator – actually making a decision for the parties on some aspect, or even the outcome, of the dispute. Arbitration awards are often, but not always, binding.

Mediation, along with other forms of ADR, is governed by rules that have been established and are enforced by the South Carolina Supreme Court. Rule 3 requires most civil matters to submit to the process and allows the parties to select the mediator they will engage. Parties can ask that cases be exempt from mediation in certain limited events, such as the physical condition of a party.

Rule 5 controls the mediation conference. It requires that the mediation shall take place in the county where the dispute was filed, at a site designated by the mediator or agreed upon by the parties. Most mediations must be completed within 300 days of the lawsuit being filed. Generally, a case will not appear on the trial docket until mediation has occurred.

The mediation conference usually begins with the mediator explaining the rules governing the process to the parties and their lawyers. The mediator will meet privately with the parties and their counsel to better understand the issues involved and to begin the process of facilitating a resolution of the dispute.

Under Rule 6, the following individuals must attend mediation:

  • The mediator;
  • All individual parties, or a representative of a corporate party, insurance company, or governmental agency who has full authority to settle the claim; and
  • The parties’ attorneys (if any).

Attending a mediation can be challenging for corporate parties, which must have a representative appear in person for the mediation; however, the parties and the mediator can consent to exceptions to this rule, such as allowing a representative to appear by telephone or Zoom conference. The court can also allow such exceptions. If you have questions or concerns about these attendance requirements, ask a knowledgeable South Carolina mediator.

Finally, under Rule 8, discussions that take place during mediation are confidential. Put simply: what happens in mediation stays in mediation. Parties cannot disclose offers to settle or other statements that are made in the mediation context, including statements made in any pre-mediation written submissions. Information and documents exchanged during the conference are also protected. The rule covers any communications about mediation. That means, for instance, parties cannot blog or post about the mediation on social media.

The confidentiality requirement is fairly broad. Anyone who is at any time present in mediation, from start to finish, is required to maintain the confidentiality of the process. That includes the participants above as well as other individuals such as paralegals who may be allowed in the room. One of the primary reasons for this rule is to promote candor in the proceedings, thereby inviting frank discussions about cases being mediated, to protect the integrity of the mediation process, and to dove-tail with evidentiary rules, such as Rule 408, which make settlement discussions inadmissible in most instances.

If the case cannot be resolved through ADR, it proceeds to trial.

The mediators at Gaffney Lewis have facilitated the mediation of hundreds of cases in South Carolina and are standing by to help.

Mediation is complicated, and there are numerous other rules that guide the process. The mediators of Gaffney Lewis, LLC, are also litigators with extensive experience in South Carolina civil matters. That allows us to bring a balanced approach, thoroughly understand the issues at stake, and provide a fair and neutral mediation for both sides. If you have a pending civil matter and require a mediator, give us a call today to learn more.



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