The Lawyer as Peacemaker with David Hoffman

EP: 039

David Hoffman

The Lawyer as Peacemaker



The 14th Dalai Lama wisely said, ‘Peace is not simply the absence of war. It is not a passive state of being. We must wage peace, as vigilantly as we wage war.’ Our cultural bias suggests that peacemaking is somehow weak or submissive, when in fact, it takes a great deal more strength and confidence to listen and consider a point of view different from our own—especially in the legal profession.

David Hoffman is the founder of Boston Law Collaborative where he serves as a mediator, arbitrator, and collaborative divorce attorney. David teaches several courses on dispute resolution at Harvard Law School, and he was named Boston’s 2016 Lawyer of the Year by Best Lawyers in America as well as US News & World Report. His practice is focused on resolving conflict in business, family, and employment suits, and David has served as mediator in more than two thousand cases. He is also the author of several books on conflict resolution, including Mediation: A Practical Guide for Mediators, Lawyers, and Other Professionals and Bringing Peace into the Room: How the Personal Qualities of the Mediator Impact the Process of Conflict Resolution.

Today, David joins Katherine to discuss the idea of lawyer as peacemaker, explaining how lawyers are trained to argue and persuade rather than problem-solve. He addresses the toxic nature of the courtroom setting in resolving family conflict and his belief that litigation should be the last resort for divorcing couples. David walks us through the difference between ‘positions’ and ‘interests’ in interest-based models of dispute resolution, describing the value in defining the WHY behind your goals. Listen in for David’s insight on the strength and confidence required to open up and listen to the other side and learn how lawyers can achieve their highest and best use as peacemakers.

Topics Covered

How lawyers are trained to argue and persuade rather than problem-solve

Why the courtroom is a toxic environment for resolving family conflict

David’s insight around listening as an integral skill for attorneys

David’s take on the lawyer as peacemaker’s role in protecting the client

  • Determine goals (i.e.: co-parent successfully)
  • Educate client about what is likely to happen in court

David’s belief that court should be a last resort for divorcing families

The highly unpredictable nature of the courtroom setting

The fundamentals of interest-based models of dispute resolution

  • ‘Interests’ defined as WHY behind position

How Getting to Yes can help divorcing couples establish priorities

How lawyers can support clients in sorting through the emotional component

The strength and confidence required to open up and listen to the other side

The idea of disagreeing without being disagreeable

Connect with David Hoffman

Boston Law Collaborative

Resources

Lawyers as Peacemakers TED Talk

Bringing Peace into the Room: How the Personal Qualities of the Mediator Impact the Process of Conflict Resolution by Daniel Bowling and David Hoffman

Mediation: A Practical Guide for Mediators, Lawyers, and Other Professionals by David Hoffman

Getting to Yes: Negotiating Agreement Without Giving In by Roger Fisher, William L. Ury and Bruce Patton

Connect with Katherine Miller

The Center for Understanding Conflict

Miller Law Group

Katherine on LinkedIn

The New Yorker’s Guide to Collaborative Divorce by Katherine Miller

Email katherine@westchesterfamilylaw.com

Call (914) 738-7765