Getting to Know Mediator Elizabeth Todd
Elizabeth is an adaptable mediator with expertise in Subrogation & Recovery – Large and Multi-party, resolving claims or disputes involving property or products. Over a 28-year legal career, Elizabeth has served as both plaintiffs and defense counsel representing small and large companies in their day to day operations and claims. This experience allows her to understand matters from all points of view and serves as an essential component of her mediation practice. Elizabeth loves to work out and be outdoors, and when she is not in mediation, she can be found taking long walks or relaxing while cooking.
What made you want to become a lawyer?
I started my career in aerospace as a technical writer in the shuttle program at Vanderburg AFB in Lompoc, CA, and later Hughes Aircraft Company at Point Mugu, CA. At Point Mugu, I worked in the 14D radar program. I started an MBA at Loyola Marymount University in CA while working in aerospace and took a business law class… and that did it. I immediately applied to law school at Pepperdine University which ironically today has one of the best ADR programs in the nation.
What is your area of specialization?
I am highly skilled in claims or disputes that touch any dispute involving property or products from any angle whether as the plaintiff or defendant.
What are you most proud of with respect to your career?
Starting my own law firm in 2010.
Why did you become a Neutral?
As an attorney, I have been very successful in negotiating my cases, which is a tier just below mediation. My degrees and psychology and organizational communications have helped me in law practice and that same skillset naturally flows into an ADR practice.
What does ADR look like in 10 years?
Expanded Private and Court Programs.
What do you hope to accomplish through your ADR practice?
I enjoy bringing peace and positive closure for the people and companies who come to me for help.
How would your clients describe you?
Calm and kind, but very tough. I have been called a “velvet hammer” and told that I am “aggressive on the issues that matter”. The last was stated by a client and ended up being my firm tagline.
Where did you grow up?
Cocoa Beach and Cape Canaveral Florida. It is ironic I ended up in the aerospace business in CA. That was never planned.
What do you do in your spare time? How do you unwind?
I love to work-out and also to be outdoors. I accomplish both often with long walks which I find incredibly relaxing. In my early career, I never had time to cook and I really enjoy that on the weekends now.
What characteristic do you admire most in others?
People who have a lot on their plate, who are very successful but also very balanced. It is something I strive for myself.
What was your first law job?
I worked for a mid-size general liability defense firm in California. I represented a large elevator and escalator company as well as defended doctors and hospitals in medical malpractice actions.
How did you decide to branch out into ADR?
Definitely not to take it easier from law practice. This is not a retirement gig or something I view lightly; in my view, it is the pinnacle of my career and I study it.
If you had to identify a passion for a particular area of the law, what would it be?
Certainly, my areas of expertise- subrogation and recovery which touches on so many areas of law which I love. It’s never boring.
How does your experience help you add value to conflict resolution clients and their disputes?
The fact that I have spent much time as both a plaintiff’s and defense attorney and that I have had so much experience with the other folks in the process- the types of clients, insurance adjusters, corporate counsel, etc. I know what it’s like to be them or work for them or I have dealt with them on some level in my nearing 30 years of law practice!
What is the importance of alternative dispute resolution?
That people and companies can move on to better emotions, earnings, lives when their problems are solved and in many cases all three!
In your estimation, why do clients like working with you?
I put them at ease. They know I will take care of them.
How does ADR help make lawyers more successful?
Clients go to attorneys to have their problems solved in the most effective and efficient way possible. No one walks into a law office and remotely thinks their issues may take 2 or 3 years to resolve. People that handle claims for a living usually have too many and they need to move those claims. An attorney who solves problems for clients only gets more referrals, more problems to solve and thus more success for the attorney! It’s a win-win.
If you had to teach a subject, what would it be?
What is your favorite holiday and why?
Thanksgiving! It’s a combination of both family and friends and that mix is not necessarily the same every year. It is always fun.
What is the most important lesson you’ve learned in your career to date?
Do your best every day and don’t worry about tomorrow.
If you weren’t a lawyer, what would you be?
That is hard to answer. Dentist, Doctor, Personal Trainer, Nutritionist, Interior Designer, Scientist; some kind of business owner. All of them! I am interested in a lot of things.
Do you have a favorite quote?
Professionally: “Never mistake kindness for weakness”