Mediation is not just for divorces.

I was speaking with someone at a networking event yesterday and he asked what I did.  I told him I was I was an attorney and mediator. I eventually asked him to keep me in mind if he ever needs my services.  He said he’s been happily married for 47 years and he hopes he never needs my services.  That comment really struck me.  I began thinking that he’s not the only one who thinks of mediation services solely in the context of a divorce or custody dispute.  Mediation can be used in many different kinds of disputes.  In my view, mediation works best when the people involved either want or need a continuing relationship, are seeking fairness, and/or are willing to be flexible.

Are you and your siblings in conflict over what to do about your aging parents or property that you share or jointly own?  Are you having a conflict with your neighbor(s)?  Do you have a problem with a customer or client that needs to be resolved?  I urge you to consider mediation or some other form of conflict resolution (i.e. collaborative law, etc.).

Dealing with the loss of a loved one…

As a mediator, divorce and probate attorney, I deal with people who have experienced (or are experiencing a loss) on a regular basis. Everyone deals with loss in a different way. Most have heard of the stages of grief: denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance.  Often my first contact with clients is in those initial stages of anger and denial. As a professional, I have to look my clients’ losses in a business-like manner. I can empathize, but I cannot get dragged into their emotions, otherwise I wouldn’t be effective in my job. In short, I try to keep it all at arms-length.

This week, however, I am mourning the loss of the father of one of my closest friends. He was like my second father to me. Jack Howell was a patient, kind, quiet man and father; when he spoke, you knew you’d better listen…even if you weren’t his kid. I remember the fun times we spent at high school Father-Daughter dances and being driven to the mall by him while he listened to baseball on the radio (which was like torture). Even in my adult life, he called me his “daughter”, attended my graduation parties.  He was generous enough to babysit for me when my son was a baby and I had to go to court for work; even with his health failing and the recent loss of his wife, he still called to wish me a Happy Birthday. He always thought of others…

I am sorry for his loss, but I believe that he is now in a better place and no longer suffering. He will be missed by many.  Rest in Peace.