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How Angiograms Are Like Mediation.

I had a coronary angiogram this week and have taken the week off from work.

I feel better today, and so I write.

If you don’t know, an angiogram is “a procedure that uses X-ray imaging to see your heart’s blood vessels.” See, https://www.mayoclinic.org/tests-procedures/coronary-angiogram/about/pac-20384904

Not to worry; I’m okay. I came through with fortitude and perseverance, and ultimately a good result.

Fortitude is “strength of mind that enables a person to encounter danger or bear pain or adversity with courage.” See, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/fortitude

Perseverance is “continued effort to do or achieve something despite difficulties, failure, or opposition.” https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/perseverance

As a mediator, I know that perseverance and fortitude are some of the qualities that are needed for mediation too.

That is what made me start to think about the similarities between angiograms and mediation.

Here are some of the similarities:

Prior to the angiogram, I had a great deal of anxiety and reluctance to go forward with it; I am sure this is so for most participants in mediation too.

Then I had to negotiate where to start, whether via the femoral artery (groin) or the radial artery (wrist). The wrist was the lesser of two evils and the one chosen. But it was uncomfortable to start nevertheless, and uncertain.

In mediation it is often uncomfortable and uncertain for most participants, too, as they decide to start … either with introductory joint sessions or with separate, private caucuses.

As I said, an angiogram is a procedure that looks into the heart to see where the problems are, if any exist. This is what we do in mediation too.

One simply cannot get to a negotiated solution in mediation if we don’t find the cause of the problem.

In other words, we have to get to the heart of the matter. [ Insert <groan> here if you must. : ) ]

Then there’s the result.

In my case, the result was that the doctors ruled out any new or significant blockages or obstructions, or they would have sought to open the cardiac arteries with stents or other techniques available to them.

As mediators, we too have techniques to help the parties try to bypass or open blockages they face that may obstruct the path to peace.

And then there’s the recovery.

In both instances, it can take a few days for discomfort to wear off, there’s an acknowledgment that the experience is over, and there’s hope for better days ahead.

For the interventional cardiologist, and for us mediators, angiograms and mediations are minimally intrusive and often reveal pathways to better health and peace of mind, even though they both cause unavoidable anxiety in the process.

When I was in the “cath lab,” I thought about that pithy quote from the movie, The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel:

“Everything will be alright in the end so if it is not alright it is not the end.”

The same holds true for mediations.

***

David I. Karp is a full time independent mediator of real estate and business disputes in Southern California. His website is at http://karpmediation.com .

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Valley Bar Mediation Center Now Provides “Vendor Resource List” Mediations for LA Superior Court

[The following Press Release is posted as a professional courtesy.]

Los Angeles, CA – July 19, 2018 – The Valley Bar Mediation Center (“VBMC”) has been named one of two Los Angeles Superior Court Civil Mediation Resource List Vendors and now provides high-quality, low-cost mediations to all civil litigants through its panel of independent qualified attorney-mediators, pursuant to specific rules and guidelines established by the Court and the VBMC.

The mediators serving on the VBMC panel take time from their own private mediation practices on a limited basis to conduct “Resource List” mediations at reduced rates for the public good and to serve the needs of the Court litigants.

All independent mediators are lawyers with 10 years or more good standing with the State Bar of California and have met VBMC’s rigorous eligibility requirements including extensive mediation training and significant mediation experience in differing substantive areas of law.

According to Myer Sankary, Esq., Program Director, the Valley Bar Mediation Center was established in 2013, when the Court terminated its ADR program, as an independent 501(c)(3) non-profit charitable corporation to educate the public about the benefits of resolving disputes through mediation and to provide high quality, affordable mediation services to the public to reduce the burden on the Courts which has a backlog of civil cases.

“We have expanded our outreach for the benefit of the Court and its litigants through this new “Resource List” program,” said Sankary “and we receive no compensation from the Court, taxpayers or the mediators for administering this program.” Sankary explained, “therefore, we require a small per-party administrative fee to provide access to dispute resolution resources in selected cases.”

The Valley Bar Mediation Center also welcomes donations in support of its mission to help disputants throughout Los Angeles County to minimize or reduce legal fees and Court costs with early resolution of cases and to help reduce Court congestion and the Courts’ own overhead expenses of litigation.

The San Fernando Valley Bar Association encouraged and supported the formation of VMBC as an independent non-profit organization to educate the public and provide affordable mediation services to all citizens of Los Angeles County. VMBC’s board members include past and current presidents of the SFVBA.

More information about the “Resource List” program is available on the Court’s website at http://www.lacourt.org/ADR.Res.List and on the Center’s website at http://valleybarmediationcenter.com .

***

The above Public Service Announcement is brought to you as a professional courtesy via the Blog of David I. Karp. David I. Karp is a full time independent mediator of real estate and business disputes in Southern California who has agreed to be a “Resource List” panelist occasionally at VBMC for the court’s benefit. His website is at http://karpmediation.com .

Stillness and Tranquility vs. Worry and Stress

Mad Magazine’s Alfred E. Neuman, whose famous phrase was “What, me worry?,” came to mind today as I was thinking about stillness and tranquility.

We all worry. And we have stress. I know I do from time to time. I had some this week but I won’t go into it.

Suffice it to say: Stress is well documented in the legal profession. See, https://www.americanbar.org/groups/lawyer_assistance/resources/stress.html . It is also a common phenomenon in mediation. See, https://karpmediation.wordpress.com/2018/03/16/mediation-as-a-stress-test/

Regardless, for all of us – lawyers and non-lawyers alike – we all worry about our health, our family members, our work, the economy, the country, politics, global warming, social injustice, you name it.

There is so much to worry about, it can be all consuming.

And worry causes stress, as you know, which is no good.

There must be a better way to get through life. That is why I was thinking about stillness, tranquility, serenity, peacefulness, and so forth.

When I feel stress, as we all do from time to time, I have to force myself to relax. Sometimes I go swimming or cycling. I have written about both before. See, https://karpmediation.wordpress.com/2017/07/16/mediation-is-like-swimming/ . See, also, https://karpmediation.wordpress.com/2016/08/18/cycling-is-a-lot-like-mediation/

Sometimes I listen to music. Others might do yoga or meditation. Those are not for me.

I also “stop and smell the roses,” as it were, by going outside, taking a walk, and looking at our natural surroundings. Today, in fact, I watched a hummingbird feeding and darting around, and that made me feel good.

But I also do a lot of thinking and reflecting, to move my mind away from the stressers of life.

And I write. I love to write.

I have a cousin who is a rabbi and he writes, too. He writes every Friday about Saturday’s Torah portion. He did so today, so I read through the Torah portion, B’haalot’cha (Numbers 8:1–12:16) for myself (but in English).

Actually, that didn’t help so much because I was reading a part about the Israelites in the desert complaining about the lack of meat. Frankly, I hear enough complaining from and about people and their circumstances when I am mediating.

So, I looked for something else on my bookshelf and turned to a favorite book of mine called Great Jewish Quotations, selected and annotated by Alfred J. Kolatch, Jonathan David Publishers – 1996.

In it, I found a quote of Abraham Joshua Heschel’s, from his Sabbath: Its Meaning for Modern Man (1975), which so touched me that I had to include it.

Here is the quote:

In the tempestuous ocean of time and toil there are islands of stillness where man may enter a harbor and reclaim his dignity. The island is the seventh day, the Sabbath, a day of detachment from things, instruments and practical affairs as well as of attachment to the spirit.

So, as we approach the Sabbath, let us, together, enter this harbor of stillness, say farewell to the vicissitudes and superfluities of the past week, and, without worry or stress, enjoy the tranquility that comes from the spirit within us. Shabbat Shalom.

***

David I. Karp is a full time independent mediator of real estate and business disputes in Southern California. His website is at http://karpmediation.com .

I Swam Today (And Thought About Mediation)

I didn’t have a mediation scheduled for today, so I swam this afternoon once the weather warmed up. The pool heater was on. That was good.

Swimming is good exercise. My heart rate increases. My stress level goes down. And I can think about anything I want.

I have written about swimming before in a blog post called “Mediation is like Swimming.” It’s pretty perceptive actually; you should follow the link and read it.

Anyway, today, when I could think about anything I want, I thought about mediation (of course).

There are different styles of mediation just like there are different styles of swimming.

In the pool today, I mixed up these swimming styles for different laps: American Crawl, Breast Stroke, Side Stroke, Elementary Back Stroke.

In mediation, I mix up various styles too: Facilitative, Evaluative, Transformative, or a blend of one or more.

It all depends on the situation and what feels right in the moment.

Usually the results are good when it’s not so routine, the process remains interesting, and I feel good with my performance as a mediator.

Just like I feel good now having swum many laps today.

***

David I. Karp is a full time mediator of real estate and business disputes in Southern California. His website is at http://karpmediation.com .

Not My Fault

[Updated from an article of mine written about eight years ago.]

As a real estate mediator, I often conduct mediations of so-called non-disclosure cases. They are a good vehicle, although not exclusively so, for the discussion that follows.

Simply put, in non-disclosure disputes: (1) the Buyer generally claims that the Seller, or others in the transaction, had an obligation but failed to disclose something material about the property, as a consequence of which the Buyer suffered some resulting loss; (2) the Seller contends that the Buyer had its own contractual and legal obligations of due diligence to investigate the property thoroughly and the Buyer failed to fulfill those duties and protect himself or herself; and (3) the Buyer responds by claiming reliance on the Seller to provide the information.

Both Buyers and Sellers contend that they are each blameless and they each blame the other. In this context, each might say, “it’s not my fault.”

In these mediations, and others, I am always interested to hear from one side or the other, “it’s not my fault,” if and when it comes up, as it often does either expressly or implicitly.

Sometimes, I find that the words used by one person to describe the other person actually describe the speaker himself or herself. That is, if a person suggests, “it’s his/her/their fault, not mine,” the opposite may be true and it may actually have been the speaker’s fault, in whole or at least in part.

I am not a psycho-therapist, but I have a sense of the emotional triggers for the “not my fault” statement when made. They, I think, may include any of these or others:

• the Buyer’s no-fault expectations of entitlement to his or her dream home; or
• the Seller’s expectations of entitlement to a no-fault, worry-free and easy sale; or
• some sense of shame or guilt; or
• a fear of the potential for a diminished self-image if shown to be at fault; or
• a need to prove himself or herself right (guiltless); or
• simply his or her inability to accept blame.

Thus, these triggers may cause the person to attempt, through the litigation and in mediation, to shift the blame, knowingly or unknowingly, and thus to bolster his or her own self-esteem. (I am thinking that psycho-therapists may refer to this as scapegoating or narcissism but I cannot speak to that.)

Nevertheless, as a mediator, this takes me beyond the simple facilitative or evaluative approach to conflict resolution.

One of my favorite resources is Kenneth Cloke’s Mediating Dangerously: The Frontiers of Conflict Resolution (Jossey-Bass, 2001). In it, Cloke suggests, among many other things, getting to the heartfelt conversations that lead to introspection, self-honesty, authenticity and a “willingness to explore the conflicts within yourself.” (Id. at 40.)

I have seen this reflection work in mediation to lead to resolution.

But sometimes it won’t work or we cannot get there.

Sometimes the disputant’s own unwillingness to look at himself or herself in the proverbial mirror, or to consider conflicting ideas, evidence or possibilities, or one or more of them, will be an obstacle (and this is not a therapy session anyway).

Or, the lawyer may not want to go there either – perhaps because he or she may be fearful of or inexperienced with this approach or have his or her own control issues with the client or the mediator.

If we cannot explore the disputant’s own emotional contexts or conflicts, then maybe we are left with the evaluative approach in dealing with the “it’s not my fault” litigant.

Many lawyers may want this anyway – perhaps to be validated thereby.

In the more evaluative approach, the mediator becomes “the agent of reality” (a phrase often heard in mediator training courses) to suggest how the case, in his opinion, might possibly turn out if tried.

But here the risk is that the disputant will come to believe the mediator is taking sides and is biased, especially but not only if the analysis differs either from his own belief system or from that of the person’s own lawyer.

On the other hand, if the case does not settle and the disputant does not win, the lawyer can say, “See, the mediator was right,” and

“It’s not my fault.”

***

David I. Karp is a full time independent mediator of real estate and business disputes in Southern California. His website is at http://karpmediation.com .

The Unlikely Conflation of Being a Levite and a Mediator

Shavuot is upon us this weekend. It is the Jewish festival marking the giving of the Torah [the Law] at Mount Sinai. See, https://reformjudaism.org/jewish-holidays/shavuot .

One of the customs associated with Shavuot is the study of the Holy Writings. See, https://reformjudaism.org/shavuot-customs-and-rituals . Some will stay up all night for study; others like me will read, reflect, and think, for just a short while. That’s what I felt like doing today in advance of the holiday.

Today, I read, reflected and thought about this week’s Torah portion called Bamidbar which begins the Book of Numbers (Num. 1:1 – 4:20). As I learned from the sources I read (see, e.g., https://www.chabad.org/parshah/article_cdo/aid/517039/jewish/Aliyah-Summary.htm ), the Jews are in the desert and G-d calls upon Moses to take a census. The Israelites and the Tribe of Levi are counted separately. Subsequently, the Levites are appointed, among other responsibilities, to serve in the Tabernacle, guard its vessels and assist the priests with their Tabernacle duties. Id.

I am a Levite. I know so because my father told me so; he knew because his father said so to him, and so forth all the way back into the mists of time.

I am also a mediator, and this is how being a mediator and being a Levite are similar, at least for me.

Here is the thrust of it:  As stated above, the Levites were appointed to assist the priests of the tabernacle. As mediators, our job is to assist the justice system.  That is, “[mediators] are critical to the proper functioning of our increasingly congested trial courts.”  Howard v. Drapkin (1990) 222 Cal.App.3d 843, 858.

Consequently, both mediators and Levites have a special status in their respective roles as assistants, and accordingly, both mediators and Levites are treated differently because of their special status.

  • In traditional synagogues, Levites are called up to the Torah, before some others, for an Aliyah, for the honor of reading the Torah, or giving certain blessings before and after a Torah reading. Also, Levites are exempted from the custom of “redeeming a first born son” [Pidyon Haben] because of their special status as granted in Bamidbar [“The Levites shall be Mine, the LORD’s.” Num. 3:45.].
  • Although completely different in context, mediators are also treated specially, like judges, by being granted immunity from prosecution for assisting the judicial system as dispute resolution professionals.  Howard v. Drapkin, supra, 222 Cal.App. 3d at 851. [“absolute quasi-judicial immunity is properly extended to neutral third persons who are engaged in mediation.”]

Not everyone is both a Levite and a mediator, but for me, being both makes me feel special:  In both instances, I am privileged to assist, either by tradition or in practice, in service for the greater good.

***
David I. Karp is a full time independent mediator of real estate and business disputes in Southern California and sometimes a Maven about Jewish tradition. His website is at http://karpmediation.com .

A Brief Tribute to Moms

Once my mother gave me good advice. It was before my wife and I were married; we were dating at the time. My mother asked me my intentions. I said that I was serious but thought I would wait six months to propose. Her advice: Why wait? Shortly thereafter – only three months after meeting – I did propose and she accepted. That was good advice, Mom. Thanks. Happy Mother’s Day to my Mom, A”H.

Over the next four years, my wife and I began building our marriage and we started a family. Soon will be our 37th wedding anniversary. Happy Mother’s Day to the love of my life.

My wife and I raised two wonderful children, both of whom are now adults and successful in their lives, and one of whom now has a baby of her own. Happy Mother’s Day to my daughter.

Unfortunately, my Mom died young and not long after our second child was born. She loved being a grandmother and she especially loved babies. My mother would have loved being a great grandmother too. I know my wife loves being a grandparent (me too, by the way).

Rudyard Kipling reportedly said, “God could not be everywhere, and therefore he made mothers.” See, https://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/rudyard_kipling_118509 . That was a good idea.

To every person who has, had, was, is, or wants to be, a Mom, Happy Mother’s Day to you as well.

***

David I. Karp is a full time independent mediator of real estate and business disputes in Southern California. His website is at http://karpmediation.com .

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