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Neutrality: What Does That Actually Mean?

I was sitting down with two potential clients in a one-hour consultation the other day when one of the people said to me, “Explain your approach to being neutral. I mean, you’re supposed to work for both of us…how does that work?”

I started developing my answer to that question at the beginning of my career when I took my mediation training from Gary Friedman. In his seminal book, he coined the term ‘positive neutrality’ which turned on its head the conventional wisdom of the day which interpreted neutrality as essentially abandoning clients to their own views, understandings, and impulses, with the mediator essentially struggling to “not participate in any way.”

Let’s take a moment to acknowledge how huge Gary’s idea of positive neutrality was 20 years ago. When the mediation of legal disputes first started, it was practiced by attorneys who had spent their entire careers in the adversarial system, which by its very nature forces attorneys to try to identify “the truth” of the situation before them, to see the situation as having opposing sides, and to fight for and protect their client. Therefore, neutral behavior back then was seen as being the opposite of the traditional, biased, […]

2017-12-28T01:52:00+00:00 March 21st, 2015|Dispute Resolution|

Unmani Starts Writing A Book!

I have practiced mediation and Collaborative lawyering for over a decade now and after much talk with colleagues and a few clients, I have dedicated myself to writing a book about the underlying principles that inform my practice as a non-adversarial attorney. It’s currently titled: View Training For Lawyers.

While there is a lot of advice out there to develop a job that you love, cook your own food from scratch, exercise joyfully, sleep a lot and deeply, play, love, and smile I will offer snippets of View Training For Lawyers on this blog over the next few years as a reminder of another component to having a healthy, fulfilling life: gratitude. I am writing this book from a place of deep gratitude for the gift of being given eastern philosophical View Teachings, and will enjoy every minute of sharing that gift with others while I marinate in gratitude.

View Training For Lawyers

By: Unmani Sarasvati

Preamble, 2/6/15

In January 2014, I wrote an email to members of my local Collaborative Law group letting them know I would not be attending our monthly meetings for a year or two to focus on writing this book.  In my email I listed a few experiences I had had […]

2017-12-28T01:52:00+00:00 February 7th, 2015|Dispute Resolution|

One More Key to a Successful Mediation: Self-Reflection

One of the most important moments of people’s divorce process is when they assess their different process choices—courts, cooperative law, Collaborative Practice, mediation, do-it-yourself—and then assess their capacity to participate in each of those choices.

I’ve noticed over the years that my highly satisfied mediation clients all share the capacity for self-reflection. Self-reflection involves being able to identify your needs (procedural, emotional, or legal) and communicate them effectively. While this may sound simple, self-reflection is not a quality that our go-go-go society leaves a lot of room for during our bustling daily lives. Adding the complication and stress of divorcing can make self-reflection challenging and even painful. Some clients struggle when looking directly at their past financial choices and the pickle they’re in trying to figure out a way to support two homes, when supporting one was already a hardship. Other clients struggle sitting in the space of wishing that the past had been different. So self-reflection in the divorce process is not only about seeing your true circumstances—the good, the bad, and the ugly—but also about coming to peace with them enough to compromise and collegially negotiate as positive an end to your marriage as possible.

In a mediation process, your […]

2017-12-28T01:52:00+00:00 December 19th, 2014|Grief and Loss|

Keeping Mediation Costs Down: Part II

As I wrote last month, I always look forward to speaking with potential clients during a free 15 minute phone consultation.  I enjoy having a bit of my workday that is not billed, that is available to anyone who would like 15 minutes of my time and my professional mind.  It is an opportunity for me to share the wealth of information in my head about how to approach getting a divorce.  To me, divorce is not a crisis, but rather a situation to approach from many different angles—emotional, fiscal, and legal.  I enjoy taking a few moments to speak with people having a tough time and support them with information and a view of things that keeps coming back to, “You can make it through this.”

One of the most asked questions during a free 15 minute phone consultation is, understandably, “How much will our mediation cost?”  My reply is always the same, “I have no idea, but the cost is driven by two things: you and your spouse’s personalities and the complexity of your financial and legal situation.”  When people ask me what their financial and legal complexity has to do with the cost of mediation I have a […]

2017-12-28T01:52:00+00:00 June 13th, 2014|Divorce Process|