While I hope that your cases don’t go from mediation to cross-examination, our articles this month do. Many thanks to Susan Feder, our guest editor this month, who as a mediator herself has brought us a couple of great articles on mediation. Both of them are helpful not just to mediators but to all mediation participants and indeed, to anyone who negotiates, which is pretty much all of us, isn’t it?

Mark LeHocky’s article on civility in mediation demonstrates how civility gets better results, and indeed is essential to the success of mediation. And Ann Buscho’s article makes a powerful case for the benefits of helping clients fully understand the other side’s story without having to agree with it. While her article specifically addresses helping clients in divorce mediation, as a conflict resolution professor, I teach the value of this approach in all conflict and recommend her article to all of our readers.

If all of the great mediators we have here in Marin have not kept your case out of trial and you have expert testimony coming up, John Feder’s article is an excellent primer on how to cross-examine expert witnesses (and how not to) and has some tips for direct examination too. Even the most experienced litigators will pick up a few pointers.

I would like to welcome a new column on politics by MCBA board member and long-time Marin political junkie Greg Brockbank. Greg’s column will take a look at races from the local level on up to offer insight on the candidates and their chances and other political goings on. While any opinions expressed are purely his own, his column is not about advocating any politician or any position but about observing politics to help you stay better informed. Greg’s column will alternate months with Matt White’s gossip column. You are not sending Matt enough juicy gossip for him to produce a monthly column. Are we that boring? Come on, we know you like hearing about all of our members and not just their legal work because you read Matt’s column religiously. But you have to help him write it too! Send him your news!

Finally, I encourage you to read Susan Feder’s report on MCBA’s and Legal Aid of Marin’s annual pro bono luncheon, where MCBA board member Tim Nardell gave a heartfelt speech. Tim astutely observed that like much of our paid legal work here in Marin, our pro bono work here tends towards the personal. Each of you really can make an enormous difference in many people’s lives and witness that difference yourself by volunteering even just a small amount of your time through the many avenues we have, whether via the Lawyers in the Library program, through Legal Aid of Marin or in any number of other ways. The need is great and you can help regardless of your expertise. And whether you volunteer or not, you can still help by going to a party: attend Legal Aid’s Jam for Justice on May 4th. Learn more about the event here.