Getting to Know Mediator Winter Wheeler
Winter Wheeler is a former litigator with over 20 years of experience and specializes in areas of medical malpractice, wrongful death, personal injury, premises liability, auto, and trucking. She works hard to support the colleagues and clients she works with, giving her all to the task of understand their differing perspectives and experiences. This gives her the ability to balance compassion for plaintiffs with the needs of the defendant, resulting in more just resolutions for all parties involved.
WHY DID YOU BECOME A LAWYER?
There are several lawyers in my family, so it was never really a question of whether I would be one or not. I grew up admiring the lawyers around me, so it was a natural progression.
WHAT IS YOUR AREA OF SPECIALIZATION?
I have several areas of specialization. I intentionally varied my litigation career so that I would be a well-rounded mediator. I’ve focused a lot of my career on wrongful death, catastrophic injury, personal injury, premises liability, nursing home, legal malpractice, medical malpractice, products liability, toxic torts, automotive and trucking liability, civil rights, false imprisonment, municipal liability, water runoff, construction defect, contracts, and entertainment.
WHAT ARE YOU MOST PROUD OF WITH RESPECT TO YOUR CAREER?
My reputation. I’m honest and a straight shooter. People know that they can believe what I say and rely on it.
WHY DID YOU BECOME A NEUTRAL?
My favorite part of litigating was resolving a case in a way that made my clients happy, gave them a sense of closure, and helped them move on with their lives. Being a neutral will allow me to do that for many more people, and much more frequently.
WHAT DOES ADR LOOK LIKE IN 10 YEARS?
ADR is going to cease being an alternative and become the primary focus for resolution, overtaking jury trials. Attorneys will litigate with an eye toward mediation or opt immediately for arbitration in lieu of litigation entirely.
ADR is also going to expand into areas of law that we so far haven’t really considered as prime territory for alternative process. For example, I can imagine that we will see ADR becoming a vital part of criminal procedure, especially drug/alcohol and addiction-related crimes.
WHAT IS YOUR CONFLICT RESOLUTION STYLE/APPROACH?
I always want to create a comfortable and relaxed atmosphere where everyone knows they are being heard. It helps to build the bridge between the parties where they can find common ground to settle their differences.
WHAT DO YOU HOPE TO ACCOMPLISH THROUGH YOUR ADR PRACTICE?
I want to help people get out of the litigation process or avoid it altogether. It’s expensive, stressful, and lengthy. It can take an unnecessary toll on people and businesses. I want to help alleviate that burden.
HOW WOULD YOUR CLIENTS DESCRIBE YOU?
Kind, compassionate, and genuine. I listen well, pay close attention, and am generous with my time. In general, I’m a people-person. I connect easily with those around me.
WHERE DID YOU GROW UP?
I was raised in Miami, Florida. I went to an international high school, so my childhood was filled with multiple languages and cultures. I think that experience made me extremely adaptable and comfortable around people of all walks of life.
WHAT DO YOU DO IN YOUR SPARE TIME? HOW DO YOU UNWIND?
I spend a lot of time volunteering and engaging in community outreach. Outside of that I spend time with my husband and our children.
WHAT CHARACTERISTICS DO YOU ADMIRE MOST IN OTHERS?
Empathy and kindness.
DO YOU HAVE A FAVORITE QUOTE?
“Realize deeply that the present moment is all you have. Make the NOW the primary focus of your life.” Eckhart Tolle
WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE BOOK? WHY?
The Power of Now, by Eckhart Tolle. I read it whenever I start to worry about things that I can’t control or change. It reminds me to stay in the present, and that life is what’s happening around me, all the time. As a mom to four small kids, it’s important to me that I enjoy the simple moments in their daily lives, while also preparing for their futures.