Cassandra Esq., A Play In One Act

Law Practice

[Scene One]


MEDIATOR: Ken, I like to run mediations with the parties face-to-face, so they can express their feelings. That's what I want to do today.

KEN: That will end badly. I know my client. I've been to mediation with him before. A face-to-face confrontation will harden hearts and tank the mediation — especially in this case, especially with the attitude on the other side. I strongly prefer a shuttle diplomacy approach where we are in separate rooms and you go from one side to the other. Face-to-face time will end badly.

MEDIATOR: Well, Ken, I've been doing this for a while, and I know what I am doing, so that's the way we're going to do it. This is all about letting the parties express their feelings and get things off their chests.


MEDIATOR: Well, here we are. Let's start with the plaintiffs. Plaintiff, what do you feel about this case?

PLAINTIFF'S COUNSEL: [Very mildly snarky and only semi-forceful exposition of his position]

KEN'S CLIENT: [erupts in outrage] [shouts in two languages] [spittle, red face, clenched fists] [storms out] [leaves mediation]

PLAINTIFF'S COUNSEL: [smirks] [didn't want to be there in the first place]


MEDIATOR: Well, Ken, that was very disappointing. I didn't expect that would happen. I heard you, but maybe I wasn't listening to you or feeling you.

KEN: Did you get your law degree in a box of wind chimes and dreamcatchers?


Last 5 posts by Ken White



  1. Chris  •  Jul 21, 2011 @10:15 am

    I have always heard about "transformative" mediators but I thought they were mythical creatures, like Sasquatch or honest politicians. Where did you find this guy? On summer break from his job as the "cool" Guidance Counselor at the local high school? Or taking a break from following Phish?

    As a professional mediator (and recovering litigator), I would like to apologize on behalf of my profession.

  2. elambend  •  Jul 21, 2011 @10:24 am

    One summer of law school I worked for a attorney who also had a real estate business (my main interest). Most of his legal work was for disability and workers comp. Given the level of client he had, he would often get lots of crazy-people side-work.
    One day he asked me to come along for the divorce of one of his clients (marriage #5 for alcoholic, HIV+, redneck on SSDI). He told me this: "Now, in these hillbilly divorces you just have a few things to split up. We'll start with that, but eventually both will want to tell their stories to us and the other attorney about what a jerk their spouse was. Until that happens, we won't get any where with splitting up the cookie jars and finalizing the divorce; so we don't want to interrupt it when it happens."

    Sure enough, it went down just as he described, and he wasn't kidding about the cooking jars. My favorite part of this settlement was that he got the power boat that didn't work, but she got the power boat trailer with flat tires.

  3. Linus  •  Jul 21, 2011 @1:15 pm

    I have gotten that a lot lately from other (newbie) attorneys: "why don't we just sit down, the 4 of us, and work this out." Are you nuts? These people can't refrain from fighting in front of their children, you think they're going to behave for you? Who the fuck do you think you are?

    Personally, I've never done anything but the shuttle method because the other is so self-evidently stoopid.

  4. mojo  •  Jul 21, 2011 @1:24 pm

    "People, as individuals, have many fine qualities. PEOPLE, as a herd, are dumb, panicky, dangerous animals."

  5. Aashish  •  Jul 21, 2011 @1:34 pm

    Am I bad person for reading this post and thinking the mediator is a woman?

  6. Aashish  •  Jul 21, 2011 @1:37 pm

    Err, just realized the post was called "Cassandra Esq"

  7. Richard Hershberger  •  Jul 21, 2011 @1:47 pm

    I think Ken was calling himself Cassandra, after the Trojan seeress. She was cursed with accurate prophecy which no one believed. She explained in small words that bringing that big wooden horse the Greeks had left behind inside the city walls was a bad idea. It didn't go well.

  8. d-day  •  Jul 21, 2011 @2:34 pm

    How did you get that mediator? Court-ordered or did the parties pick? It seems like the mediators I get are either incredibly good or 100% awful – not a lot of in between.

  9. Dwight Brown  •  Jul 21, 2011 @2:43 pm

    Reading Ken's post makes me think: I want a Cassandra action figure for my desk at work.

  10. SPQR  •  Jul 21, 2011 @3:44 pm

    Damnit Ken, I had that client last week.

  11. SPQR  •  Jul 21, 2011 @7:25 pm

    I forgot to ask, what did this paragon of the mediation art charge you for this fiasco?

  12. Joe  •  Jul 21, 2011 @8:40 pm

    Ouch, Ken. Sounds like you had a rough day. I'm sorry you want through that.

  13. TJIC  •  Jul 22, 2011 @7:39 pm

    > Did you get your law degree in a box of wind chimes and dreamcatchers?


  14. G Thompson  •  Jul 22, 2011 @11:40 pm

    Ummm I know we are all wondering just afraid to ask, so.. with great hesitation I will step forth and..

    Did Scene Three end with the mediator trying to hug you, with the music of "Feelings, nothing more than feelings, trying to forget my feelings" playing over the closing punch? ;)

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