Unspun Logo

Lawyers, Pit Bulls & Mediation

Posted by Rick · June 4th, 2004 · 5 Comments

Today is the first of several Fridays I begin something new and interesting.

Lawyers perform various types of services, some of which include representing people in disagreeable civil actions and criminal proceedings, both of which can be adversarial.

Many people, when they think of using lawyers, think “I’m going to get the meanest pit-bull-of-an-attorney I can find!’


In addition to…representational functions, a lawyer may server as a third-party neutral, a nonrepresentational role helping the parties to resolve a dispute or other matter. — Morgan & Rotunda, 2004 Selected Standards of Professional Responsibility (2004) p.3.

There’s a whole area of law that deals with some of these nonrepresentational roles. In Fresno, for example, one can obtain a degree in Peace and Conflict Resolution. One of our adjunct professors has recently written a textbook on the subject (Noll, Peacemaking: Practicing at the Intersection of Law and Human Conflict (2003) Cascadia Publishing House) and teaches peacemaking courses in addition to his regular law practice. Another, Rich Cartier, teaches family law mediation (among other things).

Since it’s looking like I’m going to end up doing some combination of criminal defense and computer technology law (relating to the use of technology by governments and corporations and involving privacy or due process issues rather than intellectual property issues), I probably won’t be pursuing a peace and conflict resolution degree.

Resolving issues by making peace is, nonetheless, an honorable function and having those skills can be useful in many arenas, even running a blog.

It was a clear, chilly morning in early October. Sam and Jane stood with me on the steps of the courthouse, trying to absorb the feeling of being divorced. A husky man with bushy brown hair, Sam shifted restlessly, his usual enthusiasm not entirely lost in the solemnity of the moment. Jane stood beside him, gazing quietly at the people passing by. Her dark red hair framed a thoughtful face. Sam and Jane had been married fifteen years.

Their moist eyes and tentative smiles suggested competing emotions: sadness, relief, and even a hint of excitement. Their life together had come to an end; their new lives awaited them.

Turning to me, Sam shook my hand. “I really do appreciate your help. This was a lot easier than I thought it would be.”

Jane smiled. “We both thought we were going to end up in a huge fight. Doing it this way was so much better.”

We spoke briefly about their children, and as they turned to leave, Jane added, “Thank you for your help — and for your patience,” acknowledging the sometimes difficult journey we had traveled to reac this point.

As I watched Sam and Jane walk off, talking quietly to each other, I sighed with satisfaction, for I had helped them dissolve their marriage in a civil way — through mediation.

Working cooperatively and with my help as a mediator, they had divorced without destroying each other. — James, The Divorce Mediation Handbook: Everything You Need To Know (2001) p. xi.

So begins the book I will be using at the law school the next several weeks, a book which brought a humorous few moments and a little teasing fun when my wife first discovered it sitting on the dining room table as she came in from work one day.

“What’s this?”
“What?” I smiled as I heard the voice coming from the dining room.
“This book. Why do you have it?”

My wife and I have a rock-solid relationship — we are often amazed at how different it is from so many others we hear about — and I know she didn’t for a moment think there wasn’t some good explanation other than a desire on my part to end that.

“Oh…I just thought we might need it,” I said.
“No. We won’t. Everything’s mine.”
“Oh. In that case, it’s for a class I’m taking at the law school.

Which class, by the way, starts in about 40 minutes. I’ll be gone all day. Remember that comments don’t post until I hit the approval button (as soon as I get time to figure it out, I’m going to change that somehow; I’m guessing the ticket I have open with SixApart is not going to be resolved). During breaks, I’ll try to log in from the library to do that, but I wanted to let everyone know — so as to avoid the need to mediate hurt feelings later on, although, perhaps, by then I may have more skills for doing so.

Categories: Law and Legal Issues


5 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Nick Meyer // Jun 4, 2004 at 8:07 am

    Rick, good luck on your new endeavor. I wish you the best. By the way, I have seen you in your bath robe and you don’t look like a pit bull to me.

    P.S David turns 2 today.

  • 2 Rick // Jun 4, 2004 at 8:10 am

    Nick, you’ve seen the nice side of me so far. (Let’s keep it that way!) 😉

    Happy Birthday, David!

    And now, I’m off to learn how to break people up…peaceably.

  • 3 Mark // Jun 4, 2004 at 9:56 am

    It’s a free country, guys.

    That being said, all of this talk about Nick seeing Rick in his bathrobe is giving me the willies.

  • 4 abi // Jun 4, 2004 at 10:47 am


    Happy birthday to your son! Mine’s three and a bit (and just getting over the chickenpox), but I remember his second birthday vividly. Particularly the feeling that he was a little boy rather than a baby, and how much fun that was.

    And next time you see Rick in his bathrobe, take a picture! Post it to the web…


  • 5 Rick // Jun 4, 2004 at 11:04 am

    Well, actually, the bathrobe thing…the site logo is from a picture of me that was taken while I was in my bathrobe. 😉

    This class is going to be very interesting. I can’t wait to blog some of the ideas tonight. In particular, I’m going to try to address the question “Is conflict good or bad?”

Leave a Comment