Attorneys that contact us for the first time to discuss our availability for mediation often seem curious about how it is we chose one another to co-mediate employment disputes and class actions. Okay, let’s be clear here: our first time clients strongly suspect and want to clarify whether or not we are a couple. What our repeat clients know is that yes, we are married…and we co-mediate. In fact, our 30th anniversary is just around the corner on August 5 so this post is particularly timely.
While the confirmation of our married status typically satisfies the immediate inquiry, it sometimes leads to a second, but slightly more awkward question such as:
- “How can you work with your spouse, I could never do that!”
- “30 years? You should be doing family mediation.”
- “What happens if you disagree on something during mediation?”
- “Wait, who is really in control here?”
These are all good questions, if not somewhat funny for us. So let me address them in order.
- Suzanne and I met as undergraduates at CMC. We went to law school together as “the married couple.” We took the bar exam together. We got our first law jobs at the same time. Although we started in different defense firms, we have practiced together for the last 20 years representing employees and consumers. We obtained our mediation training together. Frankly, we do our best as a team (just ask our kids!).
- Here, I have no great secret. For any of our readers that are or have been married, you know that a marriage is the single most effective tool for learning how to negotiate. Throw in a couple of kids and you become immediate mediators. Enjoy what you do and enjoy those who you do it with seems to be our best recommendation. As for family law, let’s just say that we’ll stick to practice areas where we have significant litigation experience.
- This is my favorite question as it suggests that we rarely disagree. Ha! Although our paths are so similar, we often see people and issues from quite different perspectives. Rather than creating an impasse or obstacle, our different views and observations are what really allows us to dig deep and understand things with greater clarity. We have trained to refine this aspect of mediation and discuss what we heard or saw as we pass between caucus rooms, coming to a quick decision on the approach for the next caucus. This is truly one of the benefits you receive when you hire us as your co-mediators.
- Neither Suzanne nor I control the other. We work in tandem. The one with the best idea for moving mediation forward at the moment is the one that you will see talk more at that time. Although our clients only pay the price of one mediator, rest assured they are receiving two mediators working as one for that price.