Sunday, January 16, 2011
New Reasons for Being a Mensch
When we look for the ideal husband for ourselves or our daughters, many have long known that the primary goal is to find a man who is a "mensch". (Pictured are my husband and new son in law--both epitomize the term!). This week, the California Supreme Court reversed an Appellate court decision and upheld confidentiality in mediation, even where it may allow a lawyer to commit malpractice and then shield it from discovery in a subsequent lawsuit. Cassel v. Superior Court, 2011 DJDAR 658 (S178914 filed Jan. 13, 2011). In essence, this creates a heavier burden to "do the right thing", because lawyers and mediators (and their clients) must know that the deals we strike in mediation cannot be later attacked by evidence that the lawyer acted improperly during the proceedings.
This morning's New York Times includes a Book Review of "Practical Wisdom: The Right way to do the Right Thing" by Barry Schwartz and Kenneth Sharpe by Bryan Burrough. Burrough calls the review, "The Spirit of the Mensch" and applies the practical wisdom of the book authors to the practice of law, medicine and business. In today's troubled age, and the weekend celebrating the great peacemaker, Martin Luther King, Jr. as well as the day I am attending a wedding of two young people who strike me as among the most ethical, decent, menschy I know, I can only offer that it is my hope that the Cassel decision will not give a green light for misbehavior, but instead impose a quiet code of "menschleikeit"--encouraging and inspiring lawyers to be their best and highest selves even though they have the cloke of confidentiality at that most critical moment of advising their clients in mediation.