In this podcast, we speak to one of the best family law mediators in the country, Mark Baer, Esq. Mark shares his insights on what is wrong with family court, but most importantly, how, with compassion & empathy, all families can stay out of court.
Why I’m so excited about today’s guest, Mark Baer, from Pasadena, California who is an attorney and mediator, Mark Baer, is that Mark is truly an exceptional attorney and mediator, who speaks and writes tirelessly, getting the message out, that conflict sucks, court doesn’t alleviate it, so get yourself out of the court system. Mark, named California’s Most Compassionate Family Mediator” in 2015, is fond of saying something very true:
Any couple can remove them from litigation at anytime, if they so choose. But, that’s the key: if they so choose
Mark, seems to have found the secret sauce. With his focus on mediation, he’s been very successful keeping families out of court. In fact, I believe he’s managed to keep to keep all of his clients out of court, for over three years.
Like many people, Mark believes that family court, adversarial by nature, pits two parties against each other in a lawsuit, in which there is a winner and a loser, is in need of reform.
However, I believe one of his chief strengths and assets is that he focuses on changing hearts and minds, and believes that even in today’s imperfect system, it’s only a highly litigious, contentious process if we allow it to be. I believe he’s come to a similar conclusion that I have, that for many of us, more effective than focusing on trying to reform the system, is that if we drive enough public awareness that families don’t need to go to court in the first place, that nearly all matters can be handled with dignity and compassion outside of court through conciliatory means, we all win, and we don’t need to wait years for reform, we can impact change organically, through grassroots efforts.
And, what I find so rare and unique about Mark among family law attorneys, is that he is one of the most emotionally intelligent family law attorneys out there. By emotional intelligence, I mean the ability to recognize one’s own and other people’s emotions, to discriminate between different feelings and label them appropriately, and to use emotional information to guide thinking and behaviors.
Most of the ills we witness in Family Court stem from lack of emotional intelligence and empathy, an unwillingness for people to view things from other people’s perspective. In Mark Baer’s article, Huffington Post article, “The Power of Empathy”, he offers evidence that empathy is learned, and most people do have the capability to acquire empathy. Unfortunately, however, many people appear hardwired, and especially within the legal field, empathy is sorely lacking among many of his peers. As Mark points out, “If a mediator, a judge, a politician, a scientist, or anyone else for that matter, has a limited worldview as a result of their personal background and life experiences, how does that impact their assumptions and ultimately the decisions they make both personally and professionally?”
I can only hope that Mark’s message and personal mission reaches as large an audience possible, so that changes in family law will become less necessary, because societally, we’ll have moved from using Family Court in the first place, and focus on constructive, mediative, conciliatory processes such as the ones Mark employs in his practice. Perhaps, we should everyone who attends law school be required to take an emotional intelligence test, and those who are deficient, would be required to develop empathetic skills. Perhaps, we don’t stop there, everyone should develop emotional intelligence and empathy. Compassion and empathy are powerful qualities that will help us not just in navigating divorce, but in all of our relationships.
Again, we’re thrilled to have Mark Baer on the podcast. Be sure to visit Mark’s website: Mark Baer, Esq. and seek out his writing on the web. Mark writes and speaks tirelessly on the merits mediation, facilitating Rational Problem-Solving into an Otherwise Destructive Divorce Process, how to truly put children first a far too often adversarial divorce process. He’s written brilliant pieces such as, “The Perfect Storm: Lawyer Limitations and the Adversarial Model”. He’s lectured on how to facilitate a post divorce functional family, versus a far too common model, of creating an environment that facilitates a post divorce dysfunctional family.
Main Discussion Points
- How to stay out of Family Court
- What is emotional intelligence and why is it so important?
- The need for empathy training within the legal profession
- How to most effectively resolve conflict
- Parenting plans, visitation and custody issues
- How even parents in high conflict divorces can stay out of court