Declare your independence from litigation! Try an ADR only practice.

By Shawn Weber, FRI Co-founder

One of the greatest days of my life was when I decided to give up litigating.

Another great day was when I took status on my very last litigated divorce case.  No longer do I need to ask a person in black robes for a day off.  I call all of the shots in my work and LOVE it!

Declare your independence from litigation!

I litigated for years and found that while I was fairly good at it, the practice brought out the worst in me.

Before a trial, my family would notice my grumpiness.  I seldom slept well and gained weight.  Even when I “won,” it didn’t feel like a win. It was awful.

Finally things came to a head.  I quit accepting litigation cases cold turkey.  I’d be lying if I said it wasn’t scary.  It was terrifying!  But once I made the commitment, there was never any going back.

Peacemaking Only!

Today, my practice is only about Alternate Dispute Resolution (ADR – Also known as Consensual Dispute Resolution).  I do mediation, Collaborative Practice, neutral settlement conferences and negotiated settlement.  I’ll pretty much do any family law work as long as I don’t need to cross the threshold to the courtroom.  At first, there was a real financial hit.  With litigation, just a few cases could make my year.  I needed more ADR cases to get the same revenue.  But with some recalibrating, I started replacing the revenue out-of-court cases.  Now, I’m making more money than I did before.  Most importantly, I’M HAPPY!

With litigation, I always had a feeling I was doing more harm than good.  Families suffer when people do their divorce at court.  It’s not the court’s fault.  It’s just that an adversarial system is really a poor way to resolve family issues. Peacemaking processes, however, make a difference for the better.

The Transformative Moment

I live for that “transformative moment” where warring spouses find a way forward.  There’s no better high than getting into the world the people are experiencing, digging deep and finding pathways for settlement.  To see family in crisis find a way to peace is the greatest feeling.  Helping people protect their kids and pocketbook from conflict is so awesome I would do it for free!  (The best part is people actually paying me for this awesomeness.)

So, do you feel trapped in a litigation career?  Don’t worry.  There’s a way out!  If you are willing to try and take a leap of faith, you can declare your independence from litigation forever.  Come on in!  The water’s fine!

Want to take the first step to declare you independence from litigation?
Click here to sign up for our fun and interactive Divorce Mediation Training.

How a Mediation Career Changed My Life: personally and professionally.

Why a Mediation Career Can Be So Rewarding

“Fair” is the F-Word!


Why a Mediation Career Can Be So Rewarding

By Shawn Skillin, Esq.

Family Resolution Institute Co-founder

A Mediation Career can be rewarding whether you’re a lawyer, a mental health professional or a financial professional.

people calculating a new mediation career change

No matter what types of disputes you may mediate, mediation as an alternative method of conflict resolution, gives you control over your hours and your caseload.  It also gives you a chance to make a real difference in the lives of others.

Additionally, you have an opportunity to work with other professionals in a non-adversarial environment. Gratefully, a mediation career lets you be nice, almost all the time.  Therefore, mediating family law disputes makes for a fulfilling and satisfying career.

Greater Control with a Mediation Career

Control is why many clients choose mediation as an alternative method of conflict resolution for their divorce.  Clients want to control how fast or slow the process moves along, costs and outcomes.

But control is also a great reason for professionals to choose mediation as a career path.  Controlling when and where you work and how many clients you see in a day, week or month makes it possible to live and enjoy the rest of your life, too. 

You don’t have to miss that little league game or piano recital. In addition, there are no emergency ex parte hearings to mess with your schedule. I once had to miss the beginning of my son’s birthday party because opposing counsel would not be flexible in scheduling an Ex Parte.

Because you work with both clients, educating them along the way, having them set agendas and establish timelines, there are fewer emergencies along the way.  Together, all of these “control issues” make your professional life a lot easier and more predictable.  In turn, it makes your personal life better, too!                    

Successful mediators help both clients manage the divorce transition in a more positive, less stressful way. 

Mediators have the rare privilege of working with both clients. By educating them, setting a calm tone, and providing coaching and reassurance along the way, you can decrease their anxiety and keep things on an even keel. You can teach them what to expect and how to handle the stress, anxiety, and emotions that pop up along the way for themselves and their children. 

I’ve had so many clients tell me they feel like they are losing their mind or going crazy. They aren’t functioning well at work, they are forgetful, they aren’t sleeping well and they’re losing weight.  Reassuring them that this is normal, that they aren’t losing their mind, and that it will get better, really helps them settle down.  Clients really appreciate this! A lot! Happy clients, happy practice!                     

In addition, spending some time talking about how their children are doing is also helpful.

For clients who have children, this is often their main concern. Helping them to think about their children’s strength’s and weaknesses and how to manage both effectively during the divorce is helpful. Also including information on dating new people, moving to separate homes, warning signs that kids are not coping well, and community resources for children really helps parents.

Watching parents take a deep breath and a sigh of relief is so rewarding.  It’s one of the best parts of being a family mediator.

A Cooperative and Relaxed Atmosphere

One of the other things I really enjoy about mediation is working with other professionals in a non-adversarial environment.  Whether I’m the mediator or consulting counsel, the atmosphere is much more cooperative and relaxed. 

There is still some posturing to be sure, but much less than in a litigated case. Discovery tends to be informal.  There are no depositions to suck the life force out of you. Neutral financials can be invaluable in providing information and options for the clients and the other professionals involved. 

All of this makes for great professional working relationships often leading to future referrals and a busy practice.  When everyone gets along and the case moves along easily, clients are happy too.

Aspiring mediators often say they are looking for a more relaxing, less adversarial practice.

With a mediation career, you never have to write a nasty lawyer letter or make nasty phone calls when you’re the mediator. Instead, you get to be nice, calm and reassuring. It’s a good space in which to work.

This doesn’t mean you don’t have challenging days. You do. But it’s a different kind of challenge.  Its better than getting your best argument shot down in court and having to explain that to your client. 

Clients may make some interesting decisions, too, and it may not reflect what you would do, or what a judge would do.  But if you’ve educated them, helped them explore the options and they made the choices, those decisions are theirs and it’s all good. 

Sometimes I even learn a new trick or two from my clients.

Mediation is a great career choice.

A mediation career makes it possible to actually achieve a work/the rest of your life balance. It leaves you with more energy and feeling more positive at the end of the day.  And you get to help people too. Who can’t get behind that? 

Want to explore a mediation career? Become a trained mediator! Sign up for our next 4-day training in beautiful San Diego, California!

Download a San Diego Registration Form or Register Online.


Read Also:

How a Mediation Career Changed My Life: personally and professionally.

How a Mediation Career Changed My Life: personally and professionally.

By Shawn Skillin, Esq., Family Resolution Institute Trainer and Co-Founder

My Previous Life

In my first professional life, I was a nurse.  Then I got this crazy idea to go to law school.  As a nurse I worked in the Surgical Intensive Care Unit, I was certified as a critical care nurse and as a trauma resuscitation nurse.  This meant I went to the ER for new trauma’s and went on “Codes” where ever they happened in the hospital.  It was the exciting hardcore stuff and I loved it.

Whemediation careern I went to law school, I thought the equivalent of the hardcore stuff would be litigation.  I mean how bad could it be, no one would die.  Then I started litigating.  I liked it, it was exciting, but it took a toll.  It wasn’t very predictable, there was no policy and procedure manual.  Ask five lawyers (or judges) the same question and I got five different answers.

To make matters worse, I missed the teamwork and camaraderie of the hospital with everyone working together to a common goal.  Divorce lawyers didn’t really work that way…

One of my colleagues suggested I would like a mediation career, so I signed up for a training.  I instantly felt at home.  It felt educational, collaborative, constructive and rewarding to me.  I felt much more in control.

A New Mediation Career

So off I went on a new professional adventure in my new mediation career.  I was in control of my hours and case load, no more ex parte hearings at the last minute, many fewer client crises.  I was educating clients, helping them solve their own problems and I was much happier.  As I attended more training and developed my skills, I became a better listener and learned to let go of the “outcomes”, after all, they belonged to my clients.  I was in charge of the process, they were in charge of the outcome.

What’s more, my new skills translated into other areas of my life.  I was better with my kids, little league and soccer parents and my siblings (a miracle in itself).  I tried to see my Husband’s side of things (warning, limited success here.)

If you are looking for a change in your profession, whether you are a lawyer, mental health professional or financial professional, consider giving a mediation career a try.

“Fair” is the F-Word!

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