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<xTITLE>Some People See Things in Black and White; I See Them in Tie-Dye</xTITLE>

Some People See Things in Black and White; I See Them in Tie-Dye

by Clare Fowler
March 2011

From Clare Fowler's Fairly Legal Blog

Clare Fowler

Some people see things in black and white; I see them in tie-dye. This is one of my favorite quotes from my dad. Sometimes life is simple, it’s black and white, it’s win/lose. And then you walk out of the movie theater and back to real life.

A win is never completely a win. Life is never 100% perfect or 100% awful. We have to know this ourselves before we can tell this to our clients. You can never expect to be 100% satisfied with any outcome.

What we can be is 100% satisfied with ourselves. We can be proud of the actions we have taken, the forgiveness we have given others and ourselves, and we can be optimistic about the future. A mediator who is grounded in this truth is teaching her clients by example how to truly settle a case. It’s not about conquering the other guy, nor is it about conceding so much that you can’t even look at yourself in the mirror. It’s about doing the best you can, “doing the right thing, and then doing it again and again,” (Legend of the Guardians–best animation I have ever seen in a movie, by the way).

The season finale of Fairly Legal showed Kate having a pretty junky day. She didn’t have a single clearcut answer for any of her clients or herself. She made mistakes, but she owned up for them and she kept trying. This was my favorite episode because it is the one that I could most relate to (ok, so most of my days don’t involve being kidnapped by the Croatian consulate, living on a boat, and of course wearing fantastic Christian Loboutin heels). I could relate to her vulnerability. She was successful, sure, but it was a bittersweet, hard-earned success. I think this type of success is much more common than the fanfare and parades that we hope for. And if we can accept degrees of success it will help our clients learn it too.

Our clients want black and white. We give them tie-dye.


Clare Fowler is Executive Vice-President and Managing Editor at  Clare received her Master's of Dispute Resolution from the Straus Institute for Dispute Resolution at the Pepperdine University School of Law and her Doctorate in Organizational Leadership, focused on reducing workplace conflicts, from Pepperdine University School of Education. Clare also coordinated the career development program for The Straus Institute dispute resolution students. In addition to her editorial duties at, Clare coordinates online case management for ADR programs, agencies and courts.

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