We are living in interesting times here in America. It is the first time in my lifetime that I can recall a conscious effort to keep my politics and views on issues of ethics and morality to myself–rather than risk making enemies of those whom I trusted to be friends. The stridency of the discourse seen across social media, television news and the press is sometimes beyond comprehension, and almost certainly unprecedented. One can no longer assume that being educated in the same field, living and working in the same community or having similar life experiences leads people to holding similar values or beliefs in the future of our country or how to fix what’s broken in our world.
In mediation, I can say that suspending “judgment” by approaching each dispute with civility and an open-mind is without question, the best recipe for resolving civil disputes. If we can tone down the rhetoric and begin with a friendly handshake and communication of a sincere and encouraging word about resolving the differences through dialogue, compromising, perspective taking and a series of concessions designed to get to an end place that is preferable to continuing the conflict, perhaps we mediators, and those who come before us, can shine a light onto further public discourse as well. It’s hard and it takes practice and courage, but in the end, may be our only choice if we are to preserve and even improve this democracy into the 21st century.
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.