Those who were able to attend the Santa Barbara Professional Development Group on July 27, 2016, had a special treat. Heather Reed, Lee Jay Berman and the Honorable Frank J. Ochoa presented their personal experience and perspectives on “How To Grow Your Mediation Practice.” Heather Reed is a seasoned pioneer in the ADR field, who currently acts as Executive Case Manager at First Mediation Corporation, and was formerly case manager at Judicate West in Santa Barbara. Heather holds a Masters Degree in Dispute Resolution from Pepperdine Law School/Straus Institute, where she began her career in the field by assisting the directors of the Straus Institute in researching and developing ADR educational degrees. Heather, presented “Outside In, Inside Out” focusing on the need, from the inside, to “care about others and connect at a deeper level” then to “get out there” and “develop who you are.” She mentioned attending Bar Association meetings as a example of being seen by your potential hiring market and emphasized that word of mouth is the most important element in building your practice.
Judge Frank J. Ochoa, (Ret.), sat for 32 years as a trial court judge in Santa Barbara until he retired in 2015. He now conducts a private practice as mediator, arbitrator and consultant, drawing upon his extensive record of judicial, civic and educational accomplishments. Judge Ochoa received the John T. Rickard Judicial Service Award from the Santa Barbara County Bar Association in 2012 and was voted Judge of the Year by the Southern California Mediation Association in 2000. He designed and implemented the CADRe program, working closely with Lee Jay Berman. Judge Ochoa started by stating that he liked to use the term “appropriate” method rather than “alternative” method of settling disputes when discussing mediation. He shared his thoughts about how to be present in the community including the recommendation utilizing “conduits” such as Rotary Club visits, writing and publishing to increase your presence in the field.
Lee Jay Berman is an internationally prominent commercial mediator, trainer and author with unparalleled experience and expertise in mediation, mediation training and marketing. Among numerous other merits he is a Distinguished Fellow with the International Academy of Mediators. In collaboration with Judge Ochoa, he launched the CADRe program in Santa Barbara Superior Court.Lee Jay Berman began by pointing out that mediation was instituted in the courts to improve the court experience, to be more user friendly and, of course, that is our goal. He suggested you should have cards that say you are a mediator (should remember to hand them out) and should introduce yourself as a conflict resolver. You should write an ADR article at least every 6 months and should speak to groups of potential clients every other month. You should distinguish yourself by getting in front of groups, getting a marketing and planning strategy. When you conduct a mediation follow up to ask “how did I do?” Stay in touch, send holiday cards. Plan what to do and when. Keep notes. Publish, blog. He observed: “How we define what we do has to be how we feel about what we do?” He presented the “Funnel of Conflict Resolution.” Going into the top of the funnel are the potential areas of conflict in which a mediator could work (e.g. public policy, litigated disputes, workplace), and how to where to access these opportunities including: public education, system intervention, mandatory mediations (Employers and HR departments), court panels, finding attorneys/litigators, access corporate counsels. Be the best, add to the Tool Box, remind people how smart, articulate and personable you are, make lunch time presentations for legal associations, join Toast Masters to gain comfort in speaking before an audience, service groups (Rotary, Elks) mediator groups and legal associations. Join the Chamber of Commerce and join nonprofit Boards of Directors. Be where you potential clients are. In response to a question from the audience he shared that he has experienced 3 approaches to your mediation parties: from above – with authority; peer-to-peer – we both know; and from below – explain it to me. He has most often used the from below approach to demonstrate his listening skills, build rapport and trust with parties.
All three presenters concluded that it takes a serious commitment of planning, time and energy to help promote yourself and your mediation practice, but you can do it. In summary Lee Jay provided 5 key commitments: 1) Become the very best, most resourceful mediator you can be; 2) give public presentations to your target audience; 3) publish articles in target publications; 4) develop other opportunities to display your talents and 5) Spend time where your clients are.
Many thanks to Sayre Macneil and Cindy Brokaw who did a beautiful job of organizing the event.
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