Mediators of Southern California
Dear LA Mediators
We packed the house February 6, 2013 for our discussion with three lawyers, who are consumers of mediation services, to hear their perspectives on mediation and selecting a mediator. Many thanks to our panelists, Peter Babos, Edward Lee and Lauren Petkin for their perspectives, and to Peter for volunteering his offices and conference room for our overflow crowd. And special thanks to Kym for organizing the whole affair!
I think all would agree that the mediators learned a lot from the lawyers, and the lawyers appreciated the perspective of the mediators--and learned something too! As usual, the audience doesn't hold back, and we peppered the panelists with great questions and observations which highlight the differing perspectives each has on the mediation process. I think the lawyers' eyes were opened to the value of mediation, and the skills of mediators who don't happen to be attorneys. Personally, I really enjoyed the evening, and not just because we had some great wine and libations, but because we have such a great rhythm at our meetings with everyone getting in their points of view.
Here are a couple of take aways I got from the meeting:
1. In the world of private mediations, whether in family law, tort law, or commercial/business law, the lawyers are the main deciders of who will serve as mediator on their cases. There is a bias in favor of retired judges and lawyers. Retired judges are preferred when a more evaluative approach is required in the mind of the lawyer. I sensed an open mind to a mediator who is not a lawyer. (Those who are not lawyers need to be ready with a response to an attorney who brings up this issue either before or during mediation).
2. Lawyers have no idea about the differences between facilitative, evaluative, or transformative styles. They often view as "magic" the things mediators are able to do in the process
3. Lawyers tend to use the same few mediators again and again due to their prior successes with that mediator.
4. In considering a new mediator, lawyers look mainly at your experience, and testimonials from other lawyers they know who have worked with you previously in deciding whether to work with you on their case.
There are certainly more take aways that each of you can share! But let's look at what these take aways mean to you as a mediator:
1. If you're not an attorney and mediate, you will face an institutional bias from the lawyers in cases where lawyers are picking mediators.
2. Lawyers are results oriented. You will gain business by getting results. A pleasant process is helpful, but lawyers recognize that sometimes getting results may not always come from a completely pleasant process.
3. Each mediation you have with an attorney is an opportunity to not only settle a case, but build a relationship. Even when you don't settle the case at mediation, your tenacity in follow up can earn you respect and more cases from those participants.
4. Never, ever try to get between a lawyer and his/her client as a tactic to settle the case. Wait for permission from the lawyer before doing the math with the client. Conversely, you score points by praising the work and effort of the lawyer to the client.
I hope these observations spark a discussion and perhaps different viewpoints. That's what this group is for, after all...
So let's turn our attention to the next meeting, which will be on March 26, 2013. It's our annual "Roundtable" which means "the woodshed" to me. The "woodshed" is where musician go to work out their parts and practice. So our meeting will allow all of us to bring whatever issues being played with for us all to play with and work through together. A couple of topics come to mind right away, and I hope we can discuss them:
1. Do the changes to the LA Superior Court ADR system mean opportunity for mediators, and if so, how? Hopefully someone will have the latest scoop.
2. What is your business plan? How do you go about developing a business and keeping it growing and healthy? I'd like to see some resumes at the meeting and we can talk about how to maximize one's strengths in the resume, and perhaps even website content. I would ask the more experienced mediators in the group to be prepared to discuss their experiences in the early days and what they did and didn't do, and what mistakes they made, in getting to the next level.
3. Has the LA subculture of mostly separate caucus (which is largely driven by our customers) put us at a disadvantage in getting results? This one is front and center for me, and my views on the subject are in the middle of a quantum shift at this point in my career. I would be happy to get the views of others on this subject, and all subjects that come up.
As usual, I will bring the wine. Kym will blast you with details, and lifetime members always have priority in getting a seat at the table.
Lastly, I'm feeling like we should have a meeting in the Valley soon. We could meet in either Van Nuys or Woodland Hills. If anyone has thoughts about future locations for meetings, I would be most interested to hear from you.
Good luck to all on your mediations this month! I'd like to suggest to each of you that you consider the bold move, when the timing seems right, of putting people together and see what happens. I'm looking forward to hearing about your experiences doing that at our next meeting.
Your president for Life
Count me in for the next one! Sorry I missed this one; it sounded great.
It was one of our best meetings ever!! More to follow! Only the best for our LA Mediators!
Hi Kym I wanted to tell you how much I enjoyed the last meeting of LA Mediators. It was One of the best meetings/panels I have attended. Thanks for all you do. Sue Gramacy
RSVP for 4.8.13 Meeting:
1. Bob Tessier
2. Kym Adams
3. Anne Sawyer
4. Peter Babos
5. Wendy Kramer
6. Les Rothman
7. Cyndy Pasternak
8. Sue Gramacy
9. Etan Lorant
10. Anne Russell
11. Julius Grush
12. Greg Stone
13. Glenn Gottleb
14. Darrell Forgey
15. Ray Cervantez
16. Floyd Siegal
17. Jim Heiting
Waiting: Anthony Mathews