My Philosophy

I believe you have the right to know my background and my approach in conducting mediations. Mediators have very different backgrounds which can result in very different approaches. I am sure you have used mediators who were very effective; as well as ones who were a grave disappointment. You should select one you believe is best suited to understanding your case, and assisting you in resolving it. Obviously, there is no one right way to conduct a mediation. There is no one right person; no one right approach. I believe it helps you to know something about my background and experience, as well as my philosophy, in making the decision whether to engage me as a mediator.

I took a long time deciding to do full-time employment mediations. I was trained as a mediator in 1999, but continued to practice law, as well as conduct mediations until 2003. Since then, I have devoted all of my time to dispute resolution, and have retired from my law firm.

Each step in my career has brought me closer to this decision. Before I went to law school, I was a clinical social worker, in a mental health facility, and then a cancer research center. I learned to work with and help people in emotional and physical distress. This has given me the ability to establish rapport with the parties in a mediation.

After law school, I joined a public interest law firm started by two former EEOC lawyers, doing plaintiffs’ civil rights work. We frequently acted as co-counsel with the EEOC in both its Philadelphia and Washington DC offices. For 4 years I practiced on the plaintiff side of the bar, and worked on some of the major civil rights cases of the time, including Ricks v. Delaware State College. We tried many cases. I learned discrimination law from the plaintiffs’ perspective, which, I believe, gives me credibility with plaintiffs and the plaintiffs’ employment bar.

For the next 20 plus years I practiced on the defense side of the employment bar. I tried a number of cases and wrote many summary judgment motions. During that time, I was a partner in several law firms, and helped found a successful employment law firm. I learned employment law from the defense perspective. I also learned what it is like to be an employer.

Of course, while a litigator I attended a large number of mediations and settlement conferences. Having represented clients on both sides, I have a keen appreciation of the benefits of a well-done mediation. I also developed strong feelings about what worked and what didn’t in mediating employment cases. This is what did not work for me:

  • Wishy-washy mediators – the mediator ignored the evidence, and tried to settle the case by telling my clients that juries were crazy, or that it would cost them more to try the case than settle it.
  • Not knowledgeable – the mediator did not know enough about employment law or litigation to properly evaluate the evidence.
  • The mediator did not appreciate the role of the lawyer, and tried to interfere with the lawyer/client relationship.
  • Mindless – the mediator treated the session as if we were buying a house, mindlessly conveying offers and demands, with no analysis or perspective.

Using mediators with these characteristics resulted in a waste of money, great frustration, and difficult relations with the client. In every way I was worse off after the mediation. Using this list, as well as what did work for me in settling cases; I can promise you the following:

  • I am tough, knowledgeable, and have credibility – I know the law; I have tried cases to verdict in almost every Bay Area county, and I know what it is like to represent demanding clients. I have represented both plaintiffs and defendants.
  • I respect the parties – I know how difficult the litigation process is on everyone and I treat the parties with the respect and dignity they deserve. One of my strengths is the ability to establish rapport with lay participants and engage them in the mediation process.
  • I respect the role of the lawyer – it is the lawyer’s case, they have to make the tough calls, they have to satisfy their clients. I caucus with the lawyers ahead of time and ask how they think I can be most effective in working with their clients.
  • I do not believe juries are crazy, but I do not believe the system is capable of reliably and consistently delivering a just result. Sometimes juries do get it right; and sometimes they don’t. I believe it is better to resolve a conflict through mediation if you can come reasonably close to getting what you think is a just result. If you can’t, try the case.
  • I stand behind my work 100%. While I cannot guarantee any outcome, I do guarantee the quality of my work.

I am very excited to be doing something to help people resolve their differences in a less devastating way than through the litigation process. I hold mediations at my former law office in San Francisco, and work throughout the Bay Area, and other parts of California . Please feel free to call me should you wish to discuss my services further.


© 2019 JoAnne Dellaverson, Esq. All rights reserved.