Continuing our blog series, “Meet Our Mediators,” I have the pleasure of interviewing Lawrence H. Kolin. Lawrence has a distinguished career in Alternative Dispute Resolution. He has been a professional neutral for sixteen years. In that capacity he has served as an arbitrator, mediator, and as a general magistrate. Through his bar association work he chaired the effort to modernize Florida Civil Procedure Rules to include E-Discovery. He has also been a member of the faculty at the Advanced Judicial College, Bench Bar conference, and The Masters Conference for Legal Professionals. You may have seen his articles in the Orange County Bar Association Briefs.
He is also the author of the officially listed ABA Journal "Blawg" Orlando Mediator (orlandomediator.blogspot.com). Lawrence is AV® rated and has been recognized as a Florida Trend Legal Elite in Arbitration & Mediation, selected as Mediator of the Month™ in Attorney at Law magazine, and identified as a SuperLawyer™. He serves on the Executive Council of The Florida Bar ADR Section (www.fladr.org). He was even named a Litigation Trailblazer and Pioneer™ by the National Law Journal for his innovative work in alternative dispute resolution practice. Needless to say, he has been a very welcome addition to UWWM’s panel of professional neutrals. He brings a scholarly and informed perspective to the firm and to his clients. Given his impressive resume, I thought it might be interesting to discover something about Lawrence that we didn’t know.
When did you first think about becoming a mediator?
It’s now 25 years ago that I was a 1L and attended a law school mediation competition. I am still inspired by facilitating parties in working out their disputes while helping colleagues resolve difficult and protracted cases. My personality is suited to being in the middle of a conflict and I went into mediation as soon as I was able in order to help parties on both sides reach a resolution and avoid the expenses associated with traditional litigation.
What did you do before becoming a mediator?
I returned from the University of Miami School of Law to my hometown of Orlando to practice law and immediately dove into trial practice, gaining experience in a broad spectrum of areas including business, commercial, employment, entertainment, insurance, professional liability and intellectual property litigation. I also served as General Counsel to several non-profit organizations. I was fortunate to be involved with many aspects of civil litigation, as well as transactional work. I even served as a Ninth Judicial Circuit General Magistrate. My ability to understand what may have led to the dispute itself helps me get to the nub of what parties are bickering about, so they can self-determine the outcome.
What do you wish people did more often in mediation?
Prepare. That goes for lawyers and clients. Lately, we spend valuable negotiating time exchanging information. I was once a busy trial lawyer with a full calendar and I understand there are only so many hours in a day, but close attention must be paid to cases in advance of the mediation conference. Because so many cases resolve through this process, preparation can only lead to better outcomes. We are seeing less and less mediation statements, certificates of authority, and parties and participants that have been properly briefed on what to expect. Being prepared can make all the difference in getting to a deal.
What is your favorite way to recharge?
To recharge, I row on a master’s crew team most mornings with Orlando Rowing Club. We compete with other clubs from around the state. Being on the water before dawn gives one a fresh perspective of the coming day -- and some days in mediation can be very long, hopefully ending in a successful settlement. Rowing is really a lifelong sport in which I have participated since Winter Park High School. There are actually quite a few lawyers on the water around here!
What is something about you not too many people are aware of?
I have always been an artist. While I enjoy many mediums, including drawing, painting and photography, watercolor is my favorite form of expression. I even went to NYU film school before becoming a lawyer. This actually helped bridge my fondness for entertainment and arts with my practice. I was fortunate enough to represent fine artists, such as Robert Rauschenberg, in intellectual property matters. Creativity allows me to help fashion some resolutions that might not seem possible to the litigants and their counsel.