Thursday, July 15, 2004
American Bar Association Section to Honor Forrest Mosten Next Month
By a MetNews Staff Writer
West Los Angeles attorney Forrest Mosten will be honored by the American Bar Association’s Section of Dispute Resolution when the ABA convenes in Atlanta next month, the ABA announced in a press release.
Mosten—known to many in the legal community as Woody—will receive the section’s 2004 Lawyer as Problem Solver Award.
The award is presented “to a member of the legal profession who has exhibited extraordinary skill in either promoting the concept of the lawyer as problem solver or resolving individual, institutional, community, state, national or international problems in his or her capacity as a lawyer,” the organization said.
The ABA noted that Mosten, a lawyer since 1972, has been active in the field of alternative dispute resolution since 1979.
The presentation will mark the second time an ABA section has given Mosten an award this year. He earlier received a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Section of Delivery of Legal Services.
The Boalt Hall graduate has carved out a reputation both in the field of family law, in which he is a certified specialist, and alternative dispute resolution. He maintains a practice in both fields, is actively involved in the training of mediators in California and elsewhere, and has authored several books on mediation and delivery of legal services.
Reached yesterday in Minnesota, where has been involved in a training program the last few days, Mosten said the awards acknowledge a “revolution” in the last 20 years in which the profession has come to recognize mediation as a legitimate, and often preferable, tool for resolving disputes.
He became involved in mediation, Mosten explained, because he saw it as a consumer-oriented tool, an extension of his earlier work as a Federal Trade Commission attorney.
When he first became active in the field, he said, “it was a culture of innovators and pioneers and risk takers [but] wasn’t accepted as part of the legal mainstream.”
There was still a good deal of hostility, for example, from the family law bar, which was afraid that people would unknowingly give up valuable rights by foregoing discovery and other litigation-related procedures in the course of mediation, Mosten acknowledged.
But the family law bar has become better educated about, and more supportive of, mediation, he said, amidst pressure for change from courts and from clients. “Family law lawyers are very responsive to what clients want,” he said, adding that most clients today want a lawyer who will make the process less confrontational and less expensive.
Much credit for changing attitudes, he said, goes to the “very pro-mediation” supervising judge of the local family law courts, Aviva Bobb.
From a personal standpoint, he said, there is an unusual amount of satisfaction that comes from empowering clients to make their own decisions rather than leaving their fates in the hands of judges or juries.
“People [who go through mediation] constantly tell me, ‘You’ve changed my life,’ ‘You’ve saved us from disaster.’ People rarely said that to me as a family law litigator....I can see myself [mediating] for another 30 years.”
Copyright 2004, Metropolitan News Company