Sunday, March 14, 2010

Insightful Closings

Los Angeles lost a great friend and "Granddaddy of Mediation", Richard Millen, last week. I had the good privilege of knowing Richard well, as he had a seat on the Board of the Southern California Mediation Association "in perpetuity" during my term as President there and we sat together on the State Bar's ADR Committee. If I could capture his philosophy in a very few words, he was a defender of the process of mediation as an essentially human prospect. He was, although a lawyer himself, quite opposed to the legalistic (or commercial) approach to human conflict. So it was with great interest that I attended the International Academy of Mediator's Conference in Salt Lake City where four highly regarded commercial mediator's from London, England to Cleveland, Ohio to Northern and Southern California, revealed their most "insightful closings". All of them involved human conflict which took self-confident and highly competent lawyers taking a step back to allow their clients to truly express themselves in the heartbreak they'd suffered in order to resolve both the emotional and the financial issues that stood between them. I'll give Richard Millen's legacy the credit for shining a light on the "mediation" of the two strains of conflict within our own community: it's okay to "Show me the Money" if you can also meet the human needs by addressing the emotional factors in mediation. Thanks, Richard, and rest in peace. Your legacy will live on.