On June 23, 2015, I was the guest-of-honor at Michael Levine's monthly "City Talk" at Luna Park and the topic was conflict resolution.
After everyone had introducted themselves, Michael asked me to briefly explain my path to conflict resolution and why I am so passionate about it.
I explained the impact my parents' litigated divorce had on our family dynamics, how it led to our father divorcing the entire family (including me and my two brothers), and how it impacted my perspective of things. I've discussed this material in great detail in my series of articles titled "Lessons I Learned from My Parents," and elsewhere. Those articles are all accessible from the Press Section of this website.
I also talked about how eye opening my experience as Successor Trustee of my mother's estate was because it was heavily litigated. Unfortunately, I was forced to take the case to trial because of what the "mediator" had done by placing in writing his expert opinion that my mother's ex-husband of ten years' claim was absurd and worth no more than what it would cost in legal fees to take the case to trial. Since I was the Successor Trustee and since there were other beneficiaries, I would have violated my fiduciary duties to have settled the case for more than what the "mediator" stated in his letter, especially in light of his assessment of the case.
Irrespective, it didn't occur to me that the trial judge would have different values, beliefs, biases and assumptions and how that would play out in terms of credibility determinations she made and in her findings of fact. I've written about this experience as well and how painful it is to sit in a courtroom, listening to a judge re-write history. I have written about this in my article titled "What Is Required to Make Collaborative Divorce Truly Collaborative?" and elsewhere.
The program then moved into a question and answer format and I fielded questions from all those in attendance. To my recollection, all of the information conveyed in that two hour program can be found in any number of my various published articles, which can be found in the Articles, Press and Blog sections of this website.
I am delighted to say that the program was well attended and well-received. Several attorneys were in attendance (mostly family law attorneys), a forensic psychologist who works in the field of family law, a forensic accountant who also works in that field, and a couple of mediators, among others.
Later that evening, one of the attorneys who attended the event sent me an email and the subject line was "Great Discussion." She said in pertinent part the following:
"I am so happy that I was at the discussion, I think it went very well. You are making a dent in the case churning attorneys. It is really outrageous what is happening, generally speaking, in the legal community....
So, Mark, your lady friend is your 'Aunt.' I want to adopt you, so I can be your 'Mom?'"
Today, the day after the event, Michael Levine made the following comment on Facebook: "An important discussion, with valuable information from Mark Brian Baer." Michael, who hosted the event, has since advised told me "I thought you did a superb job and the feedback I am getting is excellent. I hope you enjoyed it half as much as many did."
Leonard Levy, Esq. made the following comment on Facebook: "Great discussion. The insights reflected in your articles translate well to your presentation. Perhaps even more powerfully, at times as your passion for peacemaking and the interests of children comes through. Congratulations on this wonderful event. Thank you for including me."
One of my family law litigation colleagues sent me the following email following the program:
"I just want to thank you very much for inviting me to attend Tuesday's meeting. You were excellent, and I thought most of the questions and comments were well made. I actually had a consultation yesterday with a client on a case involving infidelity. I pulled your flier out and we talked about you and your approach to family law mediation and your ‘specialty’ in handling cases such as his, and how your approach could and would surely try to address the trust issues first and then work on the family law issues. At the end of the consultation, he thanked me for giving him hope and giving him a new and different perspective of his situation. I channeled Mark Baer right before he left and told him that he needs to address the trust issue so he can focus on moving forward and working on his relationship with his kids.
I don’t recall a potential client thanking me as much as he did, and I attribute some of that to you, your presentation, and your approach."
A recent law school graduate emailed me the following: "I wanted to thank you for inviting me to a lively, wonderful talk! The subject was engaging, the food was good, and the company was great."
A forensic psychologist and child custody evaluator's reaction was as follows:
"Mark- I, as usual, like what you were saying. Would love to do something with you sometime, since as an evaluator, 733, and psychotherapist, I see the damage of high conflict and hateful divorce on the children!
Although you are an attorney, your awareness and insight is better than many psychologists that I know. From what you said the other night, I now know why! You lived it from the child side. We all learn the best skills from our own experiences. As we often hear, 'What doesn't kill us, only helps to make us stronger'."
A litigation attorney who doesn't handle family law matters commented as follows:
"Mark, it was very nice to see you again, and I really enjoyed the insights you shared at Luna Park and meeting your spouse. Lets all get together soon over food and wine, maybe some time in the next few weeks!"
I also had the pleasure of meeting a number of people, one of whom has a program on KNX 1070 NEWSRADIO - CBS Los Angeles. I have been interviewed on that station twice in the past, most recently by Bob Brill on June 13, 2015. In any event, I understand that I may have an upcoming interview on this other program on KNX 1070 NEWSRADIO. That interview occurred on the evening of June 29, 2015 and we discussed premarital agreements.
All things being equal, I would say that the event was a huge success.