Monday, January 24, 2011

It's Never "Just About the Money"

I was inspired at this weekend's Consumer Attorneys Association of Los Angeles' Gala and Installation of Officers. These are the trial lawyers who achieve the biggest verdicts for their clients and yet they spoke not of their financial marks but of their striving for "justice" for their clients. So I got to thinking about whether mediators can acheive justice, or if what we dish out is only money? There's a new show, "Fairly Legal" which depicts a sit-com/drama of a mediator who seems to stick her neck into all types of matters--civil, criminal and even social. Although it's plenty dramatized, it occurs to me that in a broad way (pun slightly intended, but with apologies), she is out for mediating justice--and so far without dealing with any monetary issues. I hope that our profession has not, and will not, ever be so commercialized that people only choose to mediate their disputes when it's "only about the money". We can offer a chance for face to face interaction, for control of the outcome by the clients (not a group of strangers or a "higher power" as a Judge), and compromise. Does justice in Court offer any of those features? I don't think so. It's a different version of justice, one where there is not a clear winner and loser, but nonetheless, not limited to money. I hope in the coming year that I can keep sight of that goal, just as the Trial Lawyer's did on Saturday night: It's never just about the money and we owe our clients that chance to achieve "justice" in our alternative forum as well as in Court when they choose.

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