Stay up to date on everything mediation!

Subscribe to our free newsletter,
"This Week in Mediation"

Sign Up Now

Already subscribed No subscription today
Mediate.com

The Devil in Mediator's Clothing

by Jan Frankel Schau
February 2011

From Jan Schau's blog.

I had a rough week. As a mediator, on occasion, instead of feeling like each side's ally, one or the other side chooses to demonize us. This week, it was a landlord and tenant dispute in which I questioned whether an attorney/tenant would be able to prove a renewal of his lease by virtue of an oral agreement, which did not include an assent as to the material terms, including rent and length of the lease extension. I also stuck my neck out and offered that I didn't believe that a jury would be sympathetic to a little girl who had been seeing a "life coach" for a year following an auto accident to help her transition into the first grade. Both lawyers raised their voices at me and treated me as the "She-Devil" incarnate! (I'm pleased to advise that one of these cases has since settled based upon the Devil's Mediation Proposal which followed).

It was so helpful for me to read the interview of Richard D. Fain, Chairman and C.E.O. of Royal Caribbean Cruises today in the New York Times business section for that reason. He talked about his mentor, Jay Pritzker (founder of Hyatt Hotels) who was often his No. 1 antagonist, arguing vociferously against whatever he was proposing. Pritzker, he said, questioned him in a "highly skeptical tone" and even called him crazy. His conclusion was "you learn more by arguing with someone than just agreeing with them I learn more about whether somebody really believes their point of view and has thought it through, and it also helps me clarify in my own mind the direction I'm going."

So the next time one of the attorneys is demonizing me for that kind of skeptical questioning and antagonism, I'll remind myself that I'm actually helping them to clarify whether they believe in their point of view, have thought it through and wish to follow the direction they've started down, or change the course as the result of these "tough questions."

Biography


Attorney Jan Frankel Schau is a highly skilled neutral, engaged in full-time dispute resolution. Following a successful career spanning two decades in litigation, she has mediated over 700 cases for satisfied clients. Ms. Schau understands the nuances of trial and settlement practice as well as client relations and balancing the needs of their representatives with the risk and expenses of trial. Those who have used Ms. Schau’s services recognize excellence in her persistence, optimism, creativity and integrity.

Ms. Schau was the President of the Southern California Mediation Association in 2007 and is recognized as among the most outstanding mediators in Southern California in the mediation of civil disputes by her peers and clients. She also serves as a Trustee of the Board of Directors of the San Fernando Valley Bar Association, and has presided as Chair of it’s Alternative Dispute Resolution Section and Litigation Section. She holds a Certificate of Advanced Skills in Negotiation from the Straus Institute for Dispute Resolution of Pepperdine University as well as from the Western Law Center for Disability Rights at Loyola Law School.



Email Author
Website: www.schaumediation.com

Additional articles by Jan Frankel Schau

Comments