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Local Resolution Center Proves Talk’s Not Cheap

Blood feuds, gang wars, civil disputes and workplace wrangling all are fodder for conflict resolution.

And nobody knows that better than the National Conflict Resolution Center, which has spent more than 20 years trying to spread the word that talk is not cheap when it brings two warring factions together.

Formerly known as the San Diego Mediation Center, the nonprofit was founded by the University of San Diego Law Center and the county Bar Association in 1983. Serving business, government, school districts, law firms and the wider community, NCRC has three divisions: the Business Center, Training Institute and Mediation Center. To date, the NCRC , whose slogan is “There is a solution” , reports that it has resolved more than 10,000 cases, building an international reputation as a mediation instructor.

Sharing in that reputation is Barbara Filner, a mediation trainer and director of NCRC’s Training Institute, which will be hosting two introductory daylong mediation skills workshops, open to the public, Feb. 8, 9, 10 and 11 at the San Diego Training and Conference Center in Downtown San Diego. Spanish-language workshops will be held Feb. 18, 19, 25 and 26 at Universidad Iberoamericana in Playas de Tijuana.

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“Mediation is giving more and more opportunities to people,” Filner said. “It’s a holistic way to address a problem. You hardly ever , in a courtroom, trial, deposition or any kind of discovery , have somebody say to the other person, ‘What were you hoping would happen, what were you thinking about?’

“Intent and motivation can make all the difference in working out a resolution that is not punishing, but helpful. Admittedly, this is very idealistic, but you have to start with ideals.”

The two hardest groups to train in mediation techniques are mental health professionals and lawyers, said the veteran mediator of more than two decades.

“They’ve been trained to ask questions in different ways than mediation requires, with different goals,” she said. “Mental health people want to help their clients change, and many attorneys want to help their clients win a case. Mediation has neither of those goals in mind, but lets both sides decide what they are willing to do.

“Mediation is not a win-win, but an all-gain situation. I don’t see mediation as win-win, because that implies that it is lose-lose if you don’t get what you want.”

Middle-management people are another major group in need of mediation skills, said Filner.

“They were promoted because they were good at what they used to do, but their expertise is not human relations, and now they’re supervising all kinds of people,” she said. “It’s tough. They don’t get a lot of breaks, supervisors and managers.”

Filner, on occasion, has left the workshop for the streets to ply her trade and recalls her role as a mediator during the biotech convention that came to San Diego in 2001. With much trepidation over possible riots involving foes of genetically altered food, a street team was assembled to keep things cool.

“We talked with the police and protestors, and mostly gave people a chance to back away from a confrontation,” she said. “It was really interesting.”

And really peaceful, as it turned out.

For more info on those February workshops, or to register, visit the NCRC Web site (www.ncrconline.com); e-mail ecrowley@ncrconline.com; or call (619) 238-2400, ext. 233.

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More Mediation:

J. Richard Haden, who recently retired from San Diego Superior Court after 21 years as a judge, has joined JAMS, the Resolution Experts, as a full-time mediator and arbitrator.

Haden, 60, specializes in complex commercial and civil matters, including insurance, employment class actions, intellectual property, real property, personal injury and professional negligence.

Among Haden’s major cases, he approved the $1.55 billion settlement between California and units of Houston-based El Paso Corp. in late 2003 over allegations that the pipeline company withheld capacity on a natural gas pipeline during the state’s 2000-01 energy crisis, driving up prices in California.

Before his appointment to the bench, Haden was a deputy attorney general in San Diego, and as state attorney, he also worked with the Commission on Judicial Performance and as a counsel to the Fair Political Practices Commission.

Haden earned his law degree from the University of San Diego School of Law.

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Call To Action:

William Eigner, a partner at the San Diego law firm of Procopio, Cory, Hargreaves & Savitch LLP, has been awarded the 2004 Call to Action Volunteer Advocate of the Year by the San Diego Regional Chamber of Commerce.

He was recognized for his work with government officials to improve the climate for business and jobs in California.

Eigner serves on the Chamber’s board of directors and public policy committee; the board of advisers for BioElectric Medical Solutions, QThink, SkyRiver Communications and Mobile DataComm.

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Shareholders:

Heller Ehrman White & McAuliffe LLP has elected two attorneys from its San Diego office as shareholders.

Ross L. Burningham, who earned his law degree from Brigham Young University, J. Reuben Clark Law School, works in the firm’s venture law group; and Jeffrey C. Thacker, who earned his law degree from UC Berkeley’s Boalt Hall School of Law in corporate securities and mergers and acquisitions.

Heller Ehrman, with 13 offices worldwide, was ranked second on the American Lawyer’s 2004 “A-List,” which scores U.S. law firms for revenue, pro bono work, association satisfaction and diversity.

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On Board:

Courtney L. Bunt and Gabriela Salazar have joined Cozen O’Connor’s San Diego office as associates in the firm’s subrogation and recovery department.

Bunt earned her law degree from the University of San Diego School of Law, where she was an editor of the San Diego International Law Journal; Salazar also earned her degree from there, cum laude, and was a member of the San Diego Law Review.


Contact Pat Broderick at pbroderick@sdbj.com or call her at (858) 277-6359, ext. 3112.

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