Michele S. Riley, Esq.
12 East 86th Street, #309
New York, NY 10028
Hourly Rate $550
Current Independent Arbitrator and Mediator
Columbia University - Adjunct Faculty

Available for arbitration and mediation via videoconference and teleconference, in addition to in-person proceedings where safe and appropriate.
Practice 8
Cases 70
Languages English
Independent Arbitrator and Mediator
Columbia University - Adjunct Faculty

Available for arbitration and mediation via videoconference and teleconference, in addition to in-person proceedings where safe and appropriate.
Sole Practitioner, Independent Mediator and Arbitrator, 2001-Present; Instructor/Adjunct Faculty, Columbia University - International Center for Cooperation and Conflict Resolution, 2006-Present; Adjunct Faculty, Columbia University - Master's Degree Program in Negotiation and Conflict Resolution, 2010-Present; Of Counsel, O'Sullivan Graev & Karabell LLP (now O'Melveny & Myers LLP), 1998-2000; General Counsel, Toyota Motor Corporate Services of North America Inc., 1992-1997; Associate, Reboul MacMurray Hewitt Maynard & Kristol (now Ropes & Gray LLP), 1984-1991; Foreign Associate, Nagashima & Kojima - Tokyo, 1982-1984; Foreign Associate, Sato & Tsuda - Tokyo, 1981-1982; Associate, Layton & Sherman (now Jones Day), 1979-1981.
Has served as a mediator in over 70 disputes in a variety of industries involving a wide range of claims such as the following: claim by website developer for payment for developing website and recognition of ownership rights in and access to the website; claim by apparel design firm for payment of royalties under a license agreement with certain licensees and claim against their secured lender for the return of monies transferred to such lender as well as request for declaratory judgment on licensor's right to receive proceeds from pending litigation brought by licensees against a major department store; claim by founders of jewelry store against new corporate owner for payment of deferred purchase price as well as payment of consulting fees; claim by senior executive against a hedge fund for payment of a "guaranteed" bonus and wrongful termination; dispute between a consultant to a distributor in the beverage and spirits industry and the distributor over (a) performance of his consulting agreement, (b) whether termination was permitted "for cause," and (c) whether the consultant could be restricted from consulting for a competitor; dispute between commercial landlord and high-profile restaurant in Manhattan over validity of lease modifications and whether restaurant had been constructively evicted and was entitled to lost profits; dispute between Moscow-based electronics company domiciled in the Isle of Man and its CEO over whether the CEO was entitled to an equity interest in the company and had been wrongfully discharged by the company; request by a truck manufacturer/distributor for a declaratory judgment terminating one of its dealerships for poor performance and counterclaims alleging violations of certain statutory protections of dealerships under federal and state law; multiple claims by clients of law firms against those firms over the reasonableness of legal fees. The dollar amount of claims and counterclaims asserted has ranged from $5,000 to $20 million.

Actively serves as a mediator on panels for the New York State Supreme Court, Commercial Division, New York County, and for the United States District Court, Eastern District of New York, and as an arbitrator and mediator of attorney-client fee disputes under the New York State Unified Court System Part 137 Program. Complements ADR practice by teaching courses on mediation and negotiation at Columbia University's International Center for Cooperation and Conflict Resolution.
In dispute over the development of a website, issues included breach of contract, unjust enrichment, breach of fiduciary duty, misappropriation of trade secrets, tortious interference with business relations, tortious interference with prospective economic advantage, engaging in deceptive acts and practices, unauthorized access to electronic communications, conversion and wrongful interference with possessory rights, trespass to chattel, and breach of the duty of good faith and fair dealing. In dispute between apparel design firm, licensor, and its licensees over the payment of royalties under their license agreement, issues included questions of successor liability and fraudulent conveyance under New York debtor-creditor law where the licensees had transferred assets to secured lender, and the granting of a declaratory judgment confirming licensor's right to receive proceeds from potential judgment in then pending litigation brought by licensees against a major department store for illegal chargebacks and deductions taken by the department store against the licensees. In dispute over the sale of a jewelry firm to a new corporate owner, issues included breach by the buyer of its obligations to continue to make payments of the deferred purchase price pursuant to an asset purchase agreement and to pay consulting fees under the sellers' employment agreements with the buyer, wrongful termination of those employment agreements, and sellers' failure to record a reserve for returns and to accrue expenses in accordance with GAAP. In dispute between senior executive and a hedge fund, issues included breach of contract on a claim of a "guaranteed bonus" and promissory estoppel. In a dispute over the performance of a consulting agreement in the beverage and spirits industry, issues included breach of obligations to make consulting payments, issue stock to consultant, and present consultant to shareholders for election to the Board of Directors, scope and enforceability of non-compete clause, and interpretation of "for cause" ground for termination, as well as breach of guaranty by third-party guarantor, unjust enrichment, and intentional misrepresentation. In dispute between commercial landlord and high-profile restaurant in Manhattan, issues presented were validity of lease modifications, constructive eviction, commercial practicability, and recovery of lost business and profits. In dispute between U.S. subsidiary of Moscow-based electronics company domiciled in the Isle of Man and its CEO, issues included breach of employment agreement, fraudulent inducement to accept the position of CEO, breach of a stock purchase agreement providing for the grant of an equity interest in parent company, conversion and replevin, grant of a declaratory judgment confirming ownership of shares, and issuance of injunctive relief against interference with such ownership. In dispute between a truck manufacturer/distributor and one of its dealerships, issues included grant of a declaratory judgment terminating the dealership for breach of its performance obligations under dealership agreement and counterclaims by the dealership for violations of New York State Franchised Motor Vehicle Dealer Act and Federal Automobile Dealer's Day in Court Act, as well as breach of contract and breach of duty of good faith and fair dealing. Disputes over legal fees have included questions of the reasonableness of fees and contractual intent.

These disputes have also presented a number of business and policy issues such as the creation of appropriate and acceptable remedies beyond remedies that the judicial system may provide and consideration of the impact of disputes and their resolution on parties not participating in the mediation.
My view of mediation is informed by my background and experience as a transactional corporate lawyer rather than a litigator. In my view, mediation is an essential tool that businesses can use to approach disputes in much the same way as they would any other business problem. Rather than turning their disputes over to the legal system, where escalating costs and delays can take on a life of their own, mediation offers parties the opportunity to take ownership of their disputes and, more importantly, be actively involved in determining the outcomes of their disputes.

In my experience, parties to a dispute and their counsel often become so entrenched in their positions that they are unable to come up with ways to resolve the dispute. I see my role as one of a catalyst to facilitate a resolution. I do this by helping the parties (a) identify their underlying interests, and (b) think creatively in fashioning a resolution that goes beyond validating their positions to satisfying those interests. It is important to me to have a thorough understanding of the legal underpinnings of the dispute yet encourage the parties to think of possible ways to resolve the dispute that may go beyond those provided by the legal system.

While I tailor the mediation process according to the particular facts of the dispute and the expectations of the parties, I employ a broad range of mediation skills and techniques. These include reality checking, restoring perspective, generating options and helping the parties understand their alternatives to a negotiated agreement so that they can reappraise their positions and assess and better understand the risks of litigation as opposed to settlement. As a mediator, I am also called upon to understand negotiation dynamics and handle different influences such as culture, emotions, and psychological biases that may surface as the mediation unfolds. Depending on the desires of the parties, I may be more or less directive in voicing my views of the merits of the case and playing an evaluative role. Whatever substantive input I might have, my role also entails safeguarding the mediation process to make it as efficient, fair and respectful as possible.

Although the role of the mediator is important, the parties and their counsel bear a shared responsibility for ensuring the success of the mediation. For this reason, I ask the parties and their counsel to prepare a short mediation statement that educates me about the factual context in which the dispute arose, their objectives, and the legal claims in which the parties and their counsel have couched their grievances and defenses. Such a statement forces the parties to be actively engaged in the dispute resolution process at the earliest stage. The parties further participate, together with their counsel, in joint sessions and, when appropriate, private caucuses with me in which they are free to discuss openly matters that I will hold in confidence. Through the direct participation of the parties, any resolution reached is not only one to which they agree, but one that they are instrumental in crafting.
Peter Cane, Esq., peter@canelaw.com, (212) 922-9800; Alison Brown, Esq., alison78@nyc.rr.com, (212) 865-4188; Joshua L. Solomon, Esq., jsolomon@sandw.com, (617) 338-2408.
Sample trainings during the last five (5) years: ACE 20 Cyber Security: A Shared Responsibility, 2020; NYSBA, Business Arbitration and Mediation: How Arbitration and Mediation Will and Should Look in the Future (Webinar), 2020; NYSBA, Understanding the AAA-ICDR Virtual Hearing Guide for Arbitrators and Parties (Webinar), 2020; NYSBA, Mediation in the Time of Coronavirus: How to Conduct an Effective Online Mediation - Observations & Tips for Mediators & Representatives (Webinar), 2020; NYSBA, Mediation Choices for Effective Representation and Advocacy 2019; AAA/ICDR/AAA Mediation.org Panel Conference, 2019; Arbitrator Performance and Demeanor ~ Meeting Participant Expectations, 2018; AAA Pro Se - Managing Cases with Self-Represented Parties ACE02, 2018; Judith S. Kaye Arbitration Competition, 2017; AAA Red Flags & Risk Areas: Challenges to Arbitrator Authority ACE14, 2017; ABA Dispute Resolution Section,18th Annual Spring Conference, 2016; AAA/ICDR/Mediation.org Panel Conference, 2016; AAA Arbitration Awards: Safeguarding, Deciding & Writing Awards, 2015.
Admitted to the Bar: New York (1981).
Fellow, Chartered Institute of Arbitrators (FCIArb) and Member of its Examinations Board; American Bar Association (Dispute Resolution Section and International Section); New York State Bar Association (Dispute Resolution Section and International Section).
New York University - Center for Finance, Law, and Taxation (Professional Certificate in Dispute Resolution-2003); Georgetown University Law Center (JD-1979); Yale University (MA-1976); Douglass College (BA-1975).
Co-Author, "Overcoming the Arbitration Paradox: Toward a More Collaborative Approach to Commercial Arbitration”, ACResolution Magazine, Winter 2015.

2020 International Association of Defense Counsel (IADC) and CPR, Joint Webinar. Co-presented on Resolving Legal Disputes in the Era of COVID-19.

2019 NYS Bar Association International Section 2019 Global Conference, Tokyo, Japan. Participated in panel on Drafting Distribution Contracts Around the World: A Practical Guide.

2019 Chartered Institute of Arbitrators, New York Branch, New York, NY. Co-moderated panel on Show Me the Money: A Discussion of Damages and Pre-Judgment Interest.

2018 ABA Section of International Law Challenging the Perception of Risk in Africa, Cape Town, South Africa. Moderated panel on Doing Business: Recent Developments in Managing Disputes Through ADR/Arbitration.

2016 ABA Section of International Law 2016 Fall Meeting, Tokyo, Japan. Moderated panel on Lessons Learned: Resolution of Mass Claims in Natural and Man-Made Disasters.

2016 American Bar Association Dispute Resolution Section 18th Annual Spring Conference, New York, NY. Co-presented on Developing Cultural Competence in Mediation.

2014 Asian Mediation Association 3rd Annual Conference, Hong Kong. Presented on Coaching in Caucus: Expanding the Role of the Mediator.

2014 American Arbitration Association, Fordham University School of Law & NYSDRA Program. Participated in a panel discussion on Storm Sandy Mediation Program: Lessons Learned.

2014 American Arbitration Association Webinar. Co-presented on The Use of Mediation Techniques in Commercial Arbitration.

2011 Singapore Mediation Centre, Singapore. Led workshop on recent research findings on decision-making and their implications for mediators in cross-cultural mediations.

2011 Asian Mediation Association 2nd Annual Conference, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. Presented and moderated discussions on Transforming the Landscape of Resolving Franchise Disputes by Mediation.

2010 NYC Bar Association, New York, NY. Participated in a panel discussion on Mediation: Closing the Deal!

2009 Asian Mediation Association 1st Annual Conference, Singapore, and American Bar Association Dispute Resolution Section 11th Annual Spring Conference, New York, NY. Presented and moderated discussions on Mediating Globally: the Impact of Culture on Mediation.

2008 Asia Pacific Mediation Forum Conference, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. Presented and moderated discussions on Ethical Considerations in Mediation.
$550 Per Hour
United States of America
New York, NY

The AAA provides mediators to parties on cases administered by the AAA under AAA mediation procedures. Mediations that proceed without AAA administration are not considered AAA mediations, even where parties select a mediator who is a member of an AAA mediation roster.