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Through the Window

Through the window the august sun rises brilliantly in the east.
The light awakens her and she rises from her soft slumber.
My eyes open slightly and I see her move about.
She stands with her exquisite back to me as she dresses.
I see the beauty of all of her as she begins her day.
There is a smile on my face now as I look at her.
It is the same gladness I have felt for 33 years,
The same adoration since before our marriage began.
Her luminosity draws me to her, she awakens my soul and more.
I rise warmly from repose and greet her.
We embrace in the transcendent radiance that surrounds us.
Through the window the eastern sun smiles at our union.


David I. Karp is a full time mediator of real estate and business disputes in Southern California and occasionally an amateur poet.  His business website is at .

The Songs of Today

I’m not referring to the music that the kids listen to these days on their iPods or whatever.

In fact I don’t know what they listen to. Or if it’s music.

(Now I’m sounding like my father. And everyone’s.)

Rather, I’m writing about the songs that came to mind this morning as I was thinking about recent mediations, including today’s, that went off calendar at the last minute.

All were due to unanticipated events beyond anyone’s control.

You know the kinds of things that happen, those that bring chaos out of order:

a sudden illness of a relative or a party,

a last minute substitution of attorney,

the surprise revelation of a bankruptcy and the automatic stay,

a weather problem in someone’s home city that precludes her arrival,

an earthquake (as in Napa) or some other natural disaster,

even a war as in the Middle East!

So what’s a mediator to do?

I don’t know what others do; today I looked to the song lyricists for guidance.

Bobby McFerrin suggests:

“Don’t worry, be happy.”

Buddy De Sylva, Jerome Kern and Jerry J Nowak offer:

“Always look for the silver lining.”

And my favorite, Eric Idle, writes:

“Always look on the bright side of life… (Whistle)”

So, today, that what I’ll do instead of mediating.


(Also, hoping for the best, I’ll prepare for the next mediation coming up in a few days.)


David I. Karp is a full time mediator of real estate and business disputes in Southern California whose calendar, like everyone’s, occasionally falls victim to the chaos of life. His website is at .

Update on the “News-Diary” page of my website

August 20, 2014 — Along with a select group of mediators from several other States, David I. Karp attended an excellent one-day program in Seattle on managing the multi-party mediation.  The fact pattern that was analyzed involved six sides to the dispute, very complex, very challenging, and ultimately very useful for the larger cases.”  See,


David I. Karp is a full time mediator of real estate and business disputes in Southern California.  For additional information about him, please go to his website at

Please put it in writing.

Notwithstanding my urging that the participants write it down then and there, it is surprising to me how many recent mediations have resulted in a handshake agreement at the end of the session with the written settlement agreement to follow in the next day or days.

It is not surprising to me that many (not all) of these settlements thereafter unraveled in the day or days following the negotiation.

As I have written before, people are like rubber bands. See,

By the time they have come to a consensus on the settlement in mediation, they have stretched beyond their comfort zones to reach agreement.

In that moment, they could sign a settlement agreement … if one were ready or if everyone were present.

But they don’t, and like rubber bands stretched to their limits, sometimes people cannot sustain the tension, and they snap back to earlier positions.

That is, sometimes they have second thoughts about their concessions.

Or sometimes, there is a Monday Morning Quarterback who, absent from the negotiation, nevertheless intervenes or interferes thereafter. See,

Sometimes, people depart from the negotiation (prematurely) for their own reasons, so they cannot sign … because they are not there.

Sometimes, the settlement is too complex for a handwritten, on-the-spot agreement.

That is, sometimes there is consensus on the broad strokes of the agreement, but the details are left for a later writing.

And then there is no agreement on the details.

So much hard work goes into getting the parties to agree.

Please put it in writing and get it signed on the spot if the parties are satisfied with the terms they have just negotiated.

Maybe even do a draft in advance and bring it if you have some expectation of what the details might be so there is something to work with.

You will be glad you did.


David I. Karp is a full time mediator of real estate and business disputes in Southern California. For further information about him and his mediation practice, please go to .

When Agendas Clash, as in the Middle East.

We mediators search within a dispute for common ground. What if there is none?

Today the newspapers and even my news feed on facebook are full of stories about the current conflict between Israel and Hamas.

One side complains that Israel is raining missiles on defenseless children; the other side suggests that maybe it’s because the children have been placed at a site (UN School or other) being used as a weapons depot by Hamas.

Or there is some other spin about the war.

In any event, the destruction, the bloodshed, the strong words, are all over the news.

I don’t have to repeat any more of it here.

But what are the underlying agendas? Terrorism for terrorism’s sake? Religious conviction? Economics? Self-defense? Something else?

People smarter than I am are working on the problem, desperately looking for the solution.

Maybe the agendas are simply irreconcilable and there is no easy, or any, solution.

As I write this, I am thinking about a fascinating presentation I attended last March at the UCLA School of Law’s Negotiation and Conflict Resolution Colloquium.

There, Professor Peter T. Coleman, Director of the International Center for Cooperation and Conflict Resolution, at Columbia University, spoke about finding solutions to seemingly impossible conflicts.

He didn’t have all the answers either but suggested many interesting theories.

My own take-away from the lecture included the following quote, attributed to H. L. Mencken:

“For every complex problem there is an answer that is clear, simple, and wrong.”

(H. L. Mencken. (n.d.). Retrieved July 31, 2014, from Web site: )

This quote may acknowledge why, in my view, a simple cease-fire in Israel and Gaza may not be the solution.

It may be that a cease-fire just does not serve the underlying needs and priorities, or agendas, of either side.

Not when Hamas apparently wants to obliterate Israel and the Jewish People. Not when Israel must defend itself vigorously from such an outcome.

In mediations, sometimes there are similar clashes of agenda. I see them from time to time.

Looking for underlying motives in a recent dispute, I thought I saw hate in the eyes of one of the disputants.

The hostility was palpable.

I thought to myself: “For whatever reason [which I tried but could not uncover from this very difficult individual], I think this person’s goal/priority is simply to destroy the other via the lawsuit and the litigation process.”

Not every case settles and this one did not settle.

Why?  Because, as in the Israeli/Gazan conflict, I think it did not suit this person’s underlying agenda of destruction.

Among other things Professor Coleman suggests that, in these complex, seemingly impossible conflicts, we should look for “islands of agreement.”

I like that phrase, but I will tell you that sometimes those islands are really hard to find, if at all – just look to Israel and Gaza and the whole Middle East for example.


David I. Karp is a full time mediator of real estate and business disputes in Southern California who hopes for world peace as well. His website is at .

Setting Deadlines and Time Limits

I came into a mediation the other day and announced that my wife and I had concert tickets for that evening at the Hollywood Bowl; therefore I needed to leave by 3PM, 4 at the latest, so I could meet my wife at home to go together to the concert.

(Of course I had my ticket with me in case the mediation went longer and my wife and I had to meet at our seats, but I set a deadline to move the case along.  And I didn’t really want to miss the concert either.)

By 3:30 PM, we had reached an agreement; by 4:00 PM the agreement had been documented and signed.

I met my wife in time and the concert was wonderful.

Sometimes, an attorney will start off a morning mediation with an announcement that he or she has a court hearing or deposition scheduled for the afternoon, and sometimes that too will help the mediation fit the time schedule.

Deadlines and time limits, when announced up front, sometimes avoid the mediation dragging on and on without much progress.

On the other hand, I remember stating at the outset of a mediation that a friend’s father’s funeral was set for 4PM that day and I wanted to be able to go. But I never made it to the funeral. The vigorous pace and continuing intensity of the negotiation required that I stay to manage the impending settlement and, fortunately, there was a satisfactory alternative: I made a Shiva call – a condolence call – later at the home.

Nevertheless, sometimes it is a very good strategy to set a time limit to manage the pace of the negotiation, and sometimes one can thereby avoid a marathon session and get to peace in good time.


David I. Karp is a full time mediator of real estate and business disputes in Southern California. For additional information, please go to his business website at .

All of the ingredients for resolution were present.

It seemed that all of the ingredients for resolution were present in a mediation this past week, including but not limited to:

∙ Parties who understood the consequences of not settling;
∙ A joint session which opened communication between the disputants;
∙ A sincere admission of an error and a face to face apology;
∙ An offer to remedy the situation;
∙ Emotions managed so as not to blur the rationality of settling;
∙ Offers and counteroffers genuinely designed to move the negotiation forward;
∙ An obvious willingness to compromise to make the deal happen;
∙ Good lawyers giving good counsel to their clients;
∙ Decision makers present with authority to sign a settlement agreement;
∙ A hand crafted written agreement fully signed.
∙ Handshakes all around.

Just another good day at the mediation table!


David I. Karp is a full time mediator of real estate and business disputes in Southern California. For further information, please consult his website at .


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