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CAREER PATHWAYS | Career Development Series

METHODS OF

MODERN MEDIATION Local mediators and legal professionals discuss how mediation has evolved in modern practice By Ray Huard

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egal dramas on television are abundant – showing the gritty, intensity of a vigorous courtroom battle. Two business partners have a falling out, they hire lawyers, the lawyers fight it out in a court trial. Outside the bright lights of Hollywood, in the “real” world of law practice, mediation is much more commonplace Going to trial is risky business, according to retired San Diego Superior Court Judge and JAMS mediator Richard Haden. “No experienced trial attorney will ever tell a client this is a slam dunk and we will 100 percent win. There are all kinds of things that can happen in any trial,” said Haden, who served on the bench for 21 years. “You can think you’ve got a pretty good case going there and be handed your head.” Former Bar Association President Richard Huver – a veteran litigator who specialized in personal injury cases – said that certainly was true with his practice. As a litigator for nearly 30 years, Huver said he often turned to mediation to resolve cases. “If you have 100 cases, 95 of them are going Hon. Richard Haden (Ret.) to settle,” Huver said. “People have to have a justification and a reason to make a decision.” Often, they get that through mediation, said Huver, who is closing his practice to become a mediator with West Coast Resolution Group. “It gives the clients an opportunity to really be in a safe venue with complete confidentiality to say whatever they want to say,” Huver said. “I’ve had cases where clients have completely broken down. Just that process of being able to release that in a safe environment with a neutral third party is a way for them to feel they’ve been heard, they’ve been understood and now, when this case resolves, it’s not just a financial resolution but an emotional resolution as well.” Richard Huver Huver said his experience going through

mediation as a litigator and his work as Bar Association president prompted his career change. “When you’re President of the County Bar, you’re dealing with all sorts of viewpoints, different practice areas, and different views of people. In order to get the business of the Bar Association done, you need to develop rapport, you need to build relations, you need to build common ground,” Huver said. “I thought, you know, maybe a better career for me is to look into mediation because, really, what you’re doing is bringing parties together from both sides and finding what really is right in front of them.” As evidenced largely in our community, mediation has become an increasingly attractive career choice for lawyers and retiring judges as more and more litigants are choosing mediation to avoid costly and time-consuming trials. Former Judge Linda Quinn became a mediator with Judicate West Alternate Dispute Resolution about 3 ½ years ago after spending 25 years on the bench. She said she likes the flexibility of mediation. “Being a judge, you’re making decisions and it’s very important to be completely impartial in all aspects of the case,” Quinn said. “In mediation, there’s a lot more freedom to express to the parties what your thoughts are, what you think a better solution is for them because of the experience you’ve had watching what happens in court.” “People from different stages in their careers Hon. Linda Quinn (Ret.) are getting into mediation,” Quinn said. Fifteen or 20 years ago, the field was dominated by retiring judges, she said. “Then, we saw some attorneys who were more advanced in their careers. They just wanted to transition into something out of the practice of law,” Quinn said. “Now, we’re seeing people from different types of practices. I think it’s refreshing to see a bigger diversity of people from different backgrounds and ages coming into mediation.” January/February 2016 SAN DIEGO LAWYER 31

San Diego Lawyer January/February 2016  

Inside this Issue: Career Pathways for Attorneys; Modern Mediation; New Employment Laws