Getting to Know Mediator & Arbitrator Matthew Thiry
Why did you become a lawyer?
I have always enjoyed problem solving. From an early age, I would take things apart and put them back together, such as our family computer. That curiosity fueled a need to learn how things worked, and how to come up with ways to fix things when they did not work.
After college, I was fortunate enough to get a job tasked with developing software for a company’s internal use. The same concepts applied – take apart what was there and improve it as it was put back together.
I viewed becoming a lawyer in much the same way. I could help people by taking apart their situations or problems, and finding solutions that add value. I enjoy contributing to solutions, which, in turn, means I enjoy helping people.
What is your area of expertise?
I am a business lawyer. Throughout my career, I have assisted businesses in various ways, whether through ongoing business advice or through advocating in various forms of litigation. I enjoy contract law, which is the lifeblood of business dealings.
Why did you become a neutral?
Through my litigation experience, I have seen the disruption litigation causes to businesses, distracting them from what they do best. As an advocate, I learned to appreciate the strengths and weaknesses of both sides of each dispute. I became a mediator to assist in finding solutions to business disputes, to help minimize this disruption. The best resolutions most often occur when they are not provided by the judge or jury, and I enjoy helping parties and their counsel find those solutions.
What is the value of Alternative Dispute Resolution?
Only what the litigants are willing to put into it. ADR can provide litigants an opportunity to streamline their disputes. If they come to mediation with an interest in resolving their case, mediation can offer them the opportunity to craft a resolution that would not likely be able to be done through the courts. Moreover, a mediated resolution provides the parties the ability to control their outcome, as opposed to “taking their chances” with a judge or jury. Arbitration provides an opportunity to minimize the public eye on disputes, and provides litigants a means and a forum to have a decision maker that has knowledge and experience in the area of law pertinent to their dispute. Arbitration also provides a litigation format that is aimed at efficiency.
What is the most challenging part of being a mediator?
Helping come up with solutions that may not have been considered prior to mediation.
What is your mediation style/approach?
I look to facilitate solutions through understanding and applied problem solving. I want to understand the parties’ respective positions, what they have already done to try to resolve the dispute, and what they are trying to accomplish. I will then work to help remove the parties from the battlefield mentality so that they can hammer out the details of a deal that will allow them to get back to business.
Where did you grow up?
I grew up in Sharpsville, Pennsylvania. Sharpsville is a small town sitting on the Ohio boarder in Western Pennsylvania about halfway between Pittsburgh and Lake Erie.
What’s your favorite book?
I enjoy reading to learn something new, but also enjoy an occasional fiction. I have many favorites, but the one that came to mind first is One Second After by William R. Forstchen.
What do you like to do in your spare time? How do you unwind?
I enjoy spending time with my family. My wife and I are the proud parents of two little boys, ages 7 and 9, and our household is very active. When not working, we are usually running around from soccer, to Cub Scouts, to swim team, etc. Having the opportunity to be a part of their lives is the most rewarding part of mine.
Do you have a favorite quote?
I had a hard time picking between three of my favorites, so I provide three in response to a request for a favorite:
- “Everything is figureoutable.” – Marie Forleo
- “Start by doing what is necessary; then do what’s possible; and suddenly you are doing the impossible.” – Francis of Assisi
- “Be sure to put your feet in the right place, then stand firm.” Abraham Lincoln
What’s something your clients wouldn’t expect of you?
I played the part of King Herod in my college’s production of Jesus Christ Superstar.
What movie or novel character do you most identify with?
This is “somewhat” aspirational. I identify with the determination of Maximus from Gladiator, the loyalty of Chewbacca from Star Wars, and the adventurous intellectualism of Indiana Jones.
What characteristic do you most admire in others?
If you could have dinner with anyone living who would it be and why?
My dad, Robert Thiry. My parents and grandparents are my foundation. I have learned so much from my dad, and continue to learn from him all of the time. Over the years, he has given me so much to look up to and be proud of. We speak very regularly, but, because we live so far apart, we see each other infrequently.