- September 29, 2015
- Posted by: Lee A. Schwartz, Esquire
- Category: Monthly Newsletters
“Tell me a little about You.”
I’ve been doing “this” for thirty-four years. When people call me to ask me to help them, invariably they want to know what I’m all about. They may have been referred by a trusted friend or another professional; they may have found me on the internet; I may have met the person somewhere and they asked for a card. Regardless, that’s the first question: the person wants to know about me. My response is to find out: which “me” are they contacting me about? Do they want the “me” who litigates? The “me” who mediates? The “me” who collaborates? They are vastly different approaches. I need to know:
—-Are the person on the phone, as well as the other party to the dispute, appropriate candidates for mediation? I certainly need to qualify the person on the phone and their partner, spouse or mate, as to what their goal is:
Is their goal to win at all costs, get as much as they can, or “beat up” the other party by domination, power and/or influence, in order to get what they “want”; or
Is their goal to reach a mutual agreement that is good for both parties, and in the case of custody, has their child’s best interest as the goal of an agreement, realizing that they might not get everything they want (or, initially thinking they want) but are willing to compromise for the sake of the overall good?
If these people seem to be good candidates for mediation or collaborative law, I go further:
—-Has the person on the phone heard of mediation or collaborative law? Do they understand the benefits of both and how they fit into the overall dispute resolution spectrum?
—-Does the person on the phone, and the other party, understand mediation and how it is structured? The same question is asked about collaborative law.
—-Have these people ever thought about the benefit of “owning “ their own agreement?
The above discussion takes less than five minutes. By the end of this very basic introduction, either I hear excitement in the other person’s voice, which is good, or I hear hesitation and uncertainty, which generally is not good.
What stops folks from mediating or collaborating is either a party who has the “I have to win it all” mentality or, in many cases, a lack of knowledge of alternatives other than litigation.
Those of us who mediate and collaborate, in addition to litigate, have a duty to also educate. We need to educate the public to the wonderful alternatives to the courtroom. Don’t get me wrong, the courtroom has it’s place for the right people. However, so many of us, if properly educated, can get to “Yes” and mediate or collaborate, rather than litigate.
Call our office and we can discuss how.