Friday, August 13, 2010

I was interviewed on TV about Mediation (YouTube Link)

For over ten years, I have hosted “The Law and You” on San Jose Community Channel 15.    The show covers a wide variety of practical legal issues relating to everyday life.  Each week I present a different topic and a different guest who is an expert in his or her field.   My guest roster includes judges, district attorneys, public defenders, government officials, and attorneys in private practice. 

The topics we discuss include mediation and alternate dispute resolution (ADR), real estate,  immigration, estate planning, business law, criminal law, and many other areas of law.   You can find some of my recent shows at Community Channel 15's website,

Recently I had the interesting experience of being a guest on my own show.  Dean Joe Moless of Lincoln Law School guest hosted and interviewed me about my area of expertise: mediation and ADR.    

Here’s the link to the first part of the show which I’ve uploaded on YouTube.    You will find links to Parts 2 and 3 there.  If you are interested in mediation and ADR, I encourage you to subscribe to my YouTube channel.  I plan to upload some more informative content on mediation and ADR soon!

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Qualities of an Effective Negotiator

I'm currently in Boston to teach a class on Real Estate Deal Structures at the Harvard Graduate School of Design. I am always excited to engage with my students, who come from a wide variety of professional backgrounds and a mix of countries. Though my role at Harvard is as an instructor, I find myself being challenged by and learning from my interactions with these bright individuals.

An important focus of our class discussion is how to negotiate a favorable deal structure. The students have to role play being either a land owner or a developer, and some of them get quite aggressive in their negotiations with each other. However, contrary to what some may think, the most effective negotiators are not those who squeeze the most for themselves or their clients, regardless of the cost to the other side. Sadly I've been on the other side of such negotiators. While they eke out short term gains, their tactics only build mistrust on the other side. More often than not, the agreements resulting from contentious negotiations end up breaking down in the long run. This is mainly because the other side feels it has been taken advantage of, and there's a lack of trust resulting from the adversarial negotiation tactics.

Effective negotiators seek to understand the true goals of all parties involved, and then find a comprehensive solution that allows the parties to achieve those objectives. Certainly, they will try to negotiate favorable terms for their side, but within parameters that the other party will find reasonable.

Some of the best negotiators I have met are empathetic individuals who can truly understand different points of view. They have a rich understanding of human nature, and use humor to diffuse tense situations. Effective negotiations requires excellent communications skills. It should be no surprise that as in most other endeavors, experience is important. An experienced negotiator who has handled a diverse array of transactions, disputes, and personalities is more likely to have the skills and knowledge required to negotiate any particular matter effectively.

In every negotiation I am involved in, I bring these qualities to the table. My mission is to craft creative solutions where all parties can feel their objectives are recognized and satisfied, while still endeavoring to reach the best result possible for my clients. Over the years, my clients have been more than satisfied with the results.

Besides acquiring practical knowledge of how real estate deals are structured, hopefully my students at Harvard will leave my class with a good sense of the qualities of an effective negotiator. Some more thoughts on mediation and negotiation to follow on this blog when I return to California!

Thursday, July 8, 2010

The True Objective of War is Peace

A major part of my legal practice is mediation and other forms of Alternate Dispute Resolution (ADR.) When people come to me with seemingly intractable conflicts, I tell them two things. First, there is almost always a solution which I can help the parties reach. Second, why didn't you come to me earlier?

Often, these are folks who have already expended thousands of dollars on court and attorneys fees, and spent a lot of time and effort in the unhappy pursuit of a court battle. As Sun Tzu wisely observed "though we have heard of stupid haste in war, cleverness has never been seen associated with long delays. There is no instance of a country having benefited from prolonged warfare."

Mediation and other ADR should always be explored early on as an option to settle a conflict, regardless of whether a lawsuit has been filed. As a mediator, arbitrator, and Judge Pro Tem, I have successfully resolved innumerable disputes. I can't think of a single client who has regretted his or her decision to use ADR to achieve an early resolution of his or her conflict.