Getting to Know Mediator and Arbitrator Chip Ford
In addition to being a mediator with Miles Mediation, Chip Ford serves as the practice leader for Parker Poe’s financial restructuring & insolvency practice group. He has over 26 years of experience representing clients in all aspects of financial restructuring and insolvency including bankruptcy, loan workouts, commercial foreclosures, receiverships, and complex financial litigation in federal and state courts.
What made you want to become a lawyer?
I have wanted to be a lawyer since I was a kid. I was always a pretty decent speaker, and I gravitated toward the classic “lawyerly” subjects like literature and history. Or maybe it just gave me an excuse for struggling in science and math . . .
What is your area of specialization?
Financial restructuring and insolvency.
What are you most proud of with respect to your career?
My many years as the leader of Parker Poe’s financial restructuring and insolvency practice group, the finest group of bankruptcy and restructuring attorneys in the southeast!
Why did you become a Neutral?
I think I have the listening skills, analytical ability, temperament, and experience needed in order to be an effective neutral. Plus, I think there is a shortage of effective neutrals who are qualified to handle bankruptcy-related matters and other complex, multi-party financial disputes.
What does ADR look like in 10 years?
I think party-driven (as opposed to court-ordered) ADR will continue to increase in popularity among litigants and pre-litigants, especially in areas (like bankruptcy) where it has not yet fully caught on. It just has too many advantage in terms of party self-determination and cost (both emotional and financial) savings not to. There will always be a role for traditional litigation and the adversarial process, but I believe ADR will continue to increase in popularity given the emphasis on certainty and efficiency in the business world.
What is your conflict resolution style/ approach?
I am a proponent of letting the parties drive everything from the agenda to the amount of time spent in joint session vs. caucuses. I also think it is important to make sure all parties believe their concerns are being heard and understood, rather than trying to engineer a settlement that I may think is the “right” result.
What do you hope to accomplish through your ADR practice?
I hope to help increase the prevalence of ADR as a way to resolve bankruptcy-related and other complex multi-party financial disputes.
How would your clients describe you?
I think my clients would describe me as cool under fire and always thinking a few moves ahead.
Where did you grow up?
My hometown is Lynchburg, VA, but I spent some time as a child in Honolulu, HI and the D.C. suburbs due to my dad being a doctor in the Army.
What do you do in your spare time? How do you unwind?
I would probably put cooking at the top of the list. Everyone in my family knows their way around the kitchen, and we all enjoy making different dishes for each other. I also enjoy running and other fitness activities. I am involved in a national men’s group called F3 (Fitness, Fellowship, and Faith) that is focused on peer-led group workouts, bible study, and community outreach.
What characteristic do you admire most in others?
Humility. I admire people who are confident but comfortable enough in what they don’t know to be open to the perspectives of others.
What was your first law job?
The same as my current one – being an attorney at Parker Poe!
What is your favorite holiday and why?
Christmas. I love the family traditions and the whole spirit of the season.
What is something your clients would never guess about you?
That my youngest child is getting ready to graduate from high school!
What is the most important lesson you’ve learned in your career to date?
Never, ever, allow your integrity to be compromised. It is the one thing no one can take away from you, but if given away can never be retrieved. A corollary is to be wary of clients who are bullies.
If you weren’t a lawyer, what would you be?
Either a restauranteur or an architect.
If you could have dinner with any one person, living or dead, who would it be and why?
Mark Twain. I can’t imagine a better dinner companion and conversationalist.
What is your favorite book? Why?
The Bible. I read it every day and I never cease to be amazed at how timely and relevant it is.
Do you have a favorite quote?
No one quote in particular, but here’s a good one attributed to C.S. Lewis that I recently came across: “The truth is, of course, that what one regards as interruptions are precisely one’s life.”