Welcome. If you are involved in a civil litigation, or in a dispute headed to court, you are in the right place.
World peace like community peace does not require that each man love his neighbor-it requires only that they live together in mutual tolerance submitting their disputes to a just and peaceful settlement.
John F. Kennedy
Who is Peace and Justice Mediation?
Presently, there is but one mediator on staff—Robert P. Baker, Esq. Staff may expand in the future but if so, lawyers/parties will be engaging a particular mediator of their choice rather than generally Peace and Justice Mediation.
Robert P. Baker is a 1975 graduate of Harvard Law School who cross-registered at the Kennedy School of Government. Baker returned to school to obtain a Masters in Dispute Resolution at Pepperdine/Caruso Law School in 2020. Pepperdine’s dispute resolution program is the second highest rated dispute resolution program nationally.
Baker passed the bar of the Commonwealth of MA in 1975 then moved to CA in 1977, passed the CA bar, and started practicing law at Loeb and Loeb in Los Angeles. In 1982, Baker departed Loeb and Loeb to join the firm that is now Jeffer, Mangels, Butler & Mitchell. He was made a litigation partner as of 1/1/1983. Baker departed as of 1/1/1989 to start his own firm, Baker and Jacobson. Baker returned to Jeffer, Mangels for 3 ½ years as a contract partner from 1/1/2002 to 6/30/2005 whereupon he established Law Offices of Robert P. Baker.
Baker is a 10 time SUPERLAWYER. He has been rated AV by Martindale for approximately 30 years and AV Pre-eminent for as long as Martindale has had that category. He is a perfect 10 on AVVO. Baker has published several articles including a lead article in the UCLA Entertainment Law Review in 2005 entitled “The Unintended Consequence of the Miller-Ayala Act: Depriving Student Athletes of Legal Representation.”
Baker has tried and arbitrated perhaps 90 cases and participated in over 45 mediations in 45 years and has handled many appeals. He has several published appellate opinions including one establishing the afte-acquired evidence rule in the employment context.
Baker is a well-known human rights lawyer, having been involved in lawsuits against the LAPD based upon the Cointelpro program and the FBI based upon its harassment of persons petitioning to abolish HUAC. Baker has also donated hundreds of hours on the petition for cert and four briefs in connection with two trips to SCOTUS in Kiobel v Royal Dutch Petroleum.
Baker is a member of the ABA, the Los Angeles Bar Association, and the Southern CA. Mediators Association.
Whom Does Peace and Justice Mediation Serve?
Peace and Justice Mediation and Robert P. Baker serve parties and their lawyers in the following kinds of civil disputes: General civil litigation, real estate, construction, intellectual property, contract, business, professional negligence, employment, discrimination, education, sports, consumer litigation, fraud, probate, eminent domain, first amendment, and others. We do not handle custody disputes, workers compensation or criminal matters.
In What Geographic Areas Does Peace and Justice Mediation Provide Services?
We will conduct a virtual mediation through ZOOM in any United States jurisdiction. Robert P. Baker has litigated matters not only in CA but also in in MA, Ill. NY, WA NV and other states. At present only virtual mediations are being conducted.
Once the COVID-19 crisis is over, in person mediations will be conducted in Santa Monica CA. Robert P. Baker or another mediator affiliated with Peace and Justice Mediation will travel outside Los Angeles County for a mediation but travel will have to be paid for at rates to be arranged.
Why Should You be Looking for a Mediator?
What can a mediator add to your negotiation process? Fair question. The answer is that he or she can help you understand your situation, your options and each other-better than you do now, and better than you will if you continue working without a mediator. Research and experience have shown that gathering reliable information and analyzing it accurately is much easier when parties are working with a mediator. And if you understand the situation, the options and each other more completely and accurately, you will be able to make better decisions-to see if there is a deal that can be made; if there is one, to see how to move towards making it; and if not, to see what your other options are. All this will be easier to see because of the increased clarity that a mediator can help you attain about the situation and each other. The bottom line: a mediator’s assistance will help you make the best possible decisions for yourselves-which means a better chance of reaching settlement, and on better terms.
CF- Ohio State Journal of Dispute Resolution. Vol 12:14 1996 Robert A Baruch Bush.
Mediation is superior to other forms of dispute resolution available prior to trial. Those include a settlement conference and early neutral evaluation. Both tend to be evaluative rather than facilitative in nature. Let’s put a pin in that distinction for now as it will be discussed at length later when we consider the approach to mediation by Peace and Justice Mediation which is facilitative/broad.
In any event, only approximately 3% of all civil cases reach trial. A few are disposed of on the merits prior to trial but easily 92% are settled. Mediation is the best way to settle cases. Studies show consistently that parties, both charging parties and responding parties are happy with mediation for two major reasons:
1) self-determination- they participate in the process and craft their own result, and
2) they are able to express their feelings along the way. That is, they get to say their piece to a mediator who hears them.
What Approach to Mediation Does Peace and Justice Mediation Use?
This is the single most important question to ask any prospective mediator. If he/she does not have a clue as to the competing paradigms of his/her own craft and has not taken a scholarly look at what he/she is doing then RUN!
In a nutshell, the first academic look at the strategy of mediators and who was doing what was done by Professor Leonard Riskin. He developed a grid upon which the approach of mediators can be classified. On one axis is the approach of evaluative/facilitative. On the other axis is narrow/broad.
To be clear, Peace and Justice Mediation favors facilitative over evaluative mediation. As Professor Stulberg argues:
In its rich, widespread history, mediation is not a process designed for having an expert apply some external criteria to assess the strengths and weaknesses of the parties’ cases. Mediation is neither a process designed to marshal evidence leading to an advisory opinion by a third party, nor a rehearsal trial in front of judge or jury. Rather, mediation is a dialogue process designed to capture the parties’ insights, imagination, and ideas that help them to participate in identifying and shaping their preferred outcomes.
Prof. Joseph Stulberg, Facilitative Versus Evaluative Mediator Orientations: Piercing the “Grid” Lock, 24 FLA. ST. U. L. REV. 985 (1997).
Let’s go into this in more depth so that lawyers and parties know what you are and are not getting at Peace and Justice Mediation. Perhaps Leonard Riskin was the first mediator to ask the questions: “What are we doing and how are we doing it?” These questions he attempted to answer in a series of articles explicating a helpful grid of four quadrants that he had imagined (“The Grid”). The now familiar Grid divided mediation into Facilitative/Evaluative on one axis and narrow/broad on the other axis.
Along the Facilitative/Evaluative axis of The Grid, mediators are defined by how they conduct the mediation; that is, by their orientations, strategies and techniques. A mediator is considered evaluative when he/she asserts an identity of being an evaluator or asserts an opinion or judgment as to the outcome, or as to a fair or just resolution. An evaluative mediator may run the mediation much like a judge runs a settlement conference. Such an orientation may usurp the parties’ position as evaluators of their own situation and replace the opinion of the parties as to what is fair and just. An evaluative mediator provides guidance to the parties as to appropriate settlement terms in light of the considerations with which the mediator purports to be conversant. The evaluative mediator assumes that the parties want this guidance and that she/he is qualified to give it. The only test of success is whether the mediator convinced the parties to accept an outcome. The mediator may be persuasive, bullying, subtle or belligerent.
On the other hand, essential parts of the facilitative mediator’s role are said to include: reframing the conversation to avoid defensive reactions, structuring the bargaining agenda to maximize the opportunity for successful collaboration, probing assessments and positions, urging parties to obtain additional resources and information on their own so that they can evaluate their positions.
The facilitative mediator assumes that the parties are intelligent, able to work with their interlocutors and capable of appreciating their situations better than the mediator. (and they have lawyers to evaluate for them). The facilitative mediator assumes that his principal role is to clarify and enhance communication between the parties in order to assist them in deciding what to do (what really is your best alternative to no agreement???). The facilitative mediator asks questions in an open ended manner, indirectly probes for possible options, and prompts the parties to think about the consequences of not settling. The facilitative mediator teases out the underlying interests of the parties and the broader issues they pose, seeking creative solutions to address them. The goal of the facilitative mediator is transformation—by facilitating a degree of recognition by each party of the other’s vantage point to transform a negative relationship into a positive one.
As Scipio Africanus said to Masinissa before giving him the bad news that he had to give up the woman (daughter of an enemy) he wanted to marry as she was Rome’s by right of conquest: “I am sure that there were some qualities that you saw in me that induced you to forego your alliance to join with me in war. Of all my qualities I am most proud of my temperance.”
So too, a mediator may ask the parties to recount those qualities that gave rise to their partnership or relationship in the first place and to relate why and how things really first went bad. It may be that what is spurring the litigation is not what is claimed in the pleadings.
Scholarship has revealed large problems with evaluative mediation. First, evaluative mediators including settlement judges turn out to be poor predictors of the value of cases. Second, by announcing value they squash negotiation. Once a judge says that a case is worth $50,000, what Defendant will pay more; what Plaintiff will accept less. Thus, the mediator eliminates self determination which is one of the two bases of party satisfaction. Third, there is no systemic check on the conduct of these evaluative mediators largely due to the confidentiality granted to mediations. They can bully, harass, and be way off base on value, but there is really no recourse. Fourth, worst of all is when the settlement judge is the trial judge and this happens often. A party is cornered when a trial judge cones down hard with an opinion of value at odds with the opinion of the party and his/her counsel. Who wants to tell that judge he is nuts and then try the case before him?
No surprise then that party satisfaction is greater with facilitative mediation. That is what we are aiming for- to satisfy parties, and through them their counsel so that mediation will thrive and take the burden off the court system and its participants.
Terms of Service
Facilitative/broad mediation requires a full day, more when there are in excess of three parties. No ½ day sessions will be booked. Sessions are 10-5 and normally a way to be productive through lunch can be found. A mediation brief received at least 5 days prior to the mediation is helpful but lengthy exhibits and pleadings will not be read. The cost is $4000 per full day split evenly among the parties with a surcharge for parties in addition to three. Dates may not be reserved until the fee is paid in full and the mediation agreement is signed by all parties.