Finding Common Ground

By James Young


As I reflect on serving as mediator, I have begun to “look beyond” my decades of experience as a seasoned litigator. I am now using my skills coupled with my personability as an advocate for peace and mutual understanding, as opposed to an advocate for a particular party.  My professional satisfaction level has increased tremendously. 




I recall a case I mediated where one party was Spanish-speaking (only), and he brought his wife with him to the mediation. The attorney for that party knows that I am bilingual, and she asked me to give my opening remarks in Spanish. “Comfortably astonished” describes the Spanish-speaking litigant (and his wife) after I finished my opening remarks in their preferred language.


After we went into private session, the couple was eager to ask, “how did you learn Spanish?” I shared with them, amongst other things, that I studied the International Protection of Human Rights Law in Costa Rica, and my studies included traveling to Guatemala. Again, “comfortably astonished” described them well. Turns out, they were from Guatemala. I told them of the cities I visited while in Guatemala, and it was clear that I had found common ground with them. That “common ground” certainly helped me to gain their trust as we moved towards resolution of their case. After about five hours, we had come to a resolution. Another successful mediation.




James Young is a fully bilingual (English-Spanish) mediator and arbitrator who also maintains an active law practice. He is a Certified Superior Court Mediator and has experience mediating a range of cases including, but not limited to, guardianships and Medicaid planning, special needs estate planning, breach of contract, defamation, personal injury, workers compensation, and estate matters.