JO Knows Mediation & Arbitration

People generally avoid litigation. It’s expensive, time consuming, emotionally draining, and unpredictable. Because litigation is so inefficient, people have been seeking alternative ways to resolve disputes for almost as long as they have been litigating them. Arbitration and mediation are two forms of alternative-dispute resolution that have become increasingly popular.

Arbitration and mediation are similar, but there are important differences. Arbitration is generally conducted with a panel of arbitrators who are much like judges. The parties may call witnesses and introduce evidence. The arbitrators hear the evidence, weigh arguments, and issue decisions. Those decisions can be binding or non-binding. Most people don’t realize that popular television shows like Judge Judy and The People’s Court are actually binding arbitration proceedings, not judicial proceedings.

Although arbitration is sometimes conducted with a single arbitrator, the most common procedure is for each side to select an arbitrator. Then, those two arbitrators select a third arbitrator, at which point the dispute is presented to the panel. Decisions are made by majority vote.

Mediation, on the other hand, is a process in which a neutral third party, called a media­tor, tries to help the parties resolve their dispute. Mediation is an informal and non-adversarial process. The objective is to help the disputing parties reach a mutually acceptable agreement between themselves on all or any part of the issues in dispute. Deci­sion-making authority rests with the parties, not the mediator. The mediator assists the parties in identifying the issues, fostering joint problem solving, exploring settlement alternatives, and assists in other ways con­sistent with these activities.

Meet Our JO Team

Mark Phillipoff graduated from the University of Notre Dame and Indiana University School of Law. He was a deputy prosecuting attorney and an associate at a southern Indiana law firm before returning to his hometown, South Bend, and joining Jones Obenchain in 1983. Mark’s practice includes mediation, general trial work, family law, estate planning, probate, and real-estate law. In 2007, Mark trained to become a collaborative family-law lawyer and joined the International Academy of Collaborative Professionals. Get to know Mark and the ways he can serve you, your family, or your business by visiting

JO In Action

JO’s Amanda Zaluckyj is passionate about agriculture and family farmers. She grew up on her family’s farm in Southwest Michigan, and still helps today during busy seasons.

Amanda regularly posts on her website, The Farmer’s Daughter USA, about issues facing modern agriculture and stories about her family’s farm. She’s also been published on several national news outlets.

JO Knows Worker’s Compensation

Workers’-compensation laws serve at least two goals. First, they compensate employees who are injured, disabled, or killed in workplace accidents. Second, they protect employers and co-workers from tort claims and runaway jury verdicts.

Jones Obenchain lawyers regularly act for both employers and employees in workers’-compensation matters. Our attorneys are recognized leaders in the field who bring a practical approach to resolving work-injury claims expeditiously and fairly.

Have You Received A Letter from the IRS?

The IRS sends out millions of letters every year for a variety reasons. For some the receipt of such a letter may be a cause of great anxiety. The IRS has recently compiled a list of some dos and don’ts when you receive a letter from the IRS. To see that list, and possibly lower your level of anxiety, go to: .

JO Knows Residential Transactions

We’ll help you build, buy, sell, or rent your home. We’ve done it many, many times.

And if you have a problem with your builder, contractor, customer, buyer, seller, landlord, or tenant, we’ll try to help you solve it. There’s often an easy way if both sides are willing and reasonable.

Our litigation team is here if they aren’t.

JO Knows Insurance Litigation

At Jones Obenchain, we’ve been representing local, regional, and national insurers and their insureds for over 100 years. The work we do for them runs the gamut from defending personal-injury claims, to litigating employment-discrimination claims, to prosecuting and defending coverage actions and errors-and-omissions lawsuits.

All of this litigation gets us into court…a lot. In 2011 Jones Obenchain tried more civil jury trials in Indiana than all but two other firms.*

And though litigation is an adversarial process, our peers consistently rank us among the best at what we do. So do our clients, if the feedback they’ve given us on legal sites such as AVVO and Martindale-Hubbell are any indication.

But as essential as courtroom skills are to a litigation prac­tice, they’re worthless if our clients and the courts don’t want to read what we have to say. Let’s face it: there’s a lot of writing in a litigation practice and most legal writing is a chore to get through. People read it because they must, not be­cause it’s a page-turner.

So our litigators emphasize writing in plain English and using cutting-edge tech­nology in the documents we prepare to make them a pleasure to read. What does that mean, exactly? It’s not unusual to see photographs, hyperlinks, and video embedded in our briefs and motions. These add visual interest to the text and corroborate the arguments without sending readers to riffle through mounds of exhibits.

Not only are plainly written, visually appealing documents easier for clients to read and understand, they help persuade mediators and judges about the merits of our clients’ position. That means we’re often able to bring cases to a successful resolution before we ever step foot in a courtroom.


*Source: 2011 Indiana Jury Verdict Reporter.

Meet JO’s Summer Clerk

Jones Obenchain is happy to welcome summer law clerk Trenton Redmond. Trenton hails from South Carolina and just completed his second year at the University of Notre Dame Law School. Welcome aboard Trenton!

Renting your property for the Summer Season? – Some Things You Should Know

In the summer months folks often rent out their home or summer cottage. If you plan to join them, you should know the tax implications that arise from residential and vacation home rentals. The IRS has compiled some helpful information to help taxpayers plan ahead for the income they receive from the rental and how it should be reported. Visit to learn more about it.

Meet Our JO Team

Meet Amanda Zaluckyj, the newest associate attorney at JO. Amanda hails from Michigan and is licensed to practice law in both Indiana and Michigan. She is a Grand Valley State University alumna and a Michigan State University College of Law graduate.

Amanda thinks it is important for people have to a trusted adviser who can offer the sound legal advice and zealous advocacy that everyone deserves. She brings that approach to all of her clients today. Her goal is to make sure her clients understand the process, understand their options, and have all the information necessary to make big decisions.

When she’s not working for her clients, Amanda enjoys spending time with her family and dog, and getting lost in the latest historical fantasy novel. Welcome to Jones Obenchain, Amanda!