“Hear not only what they say but what they must surely mean”

Judge Vaughn R. Walker (Retired)

Judge Vaughn R. Walker was a United States District Court Judge, Northern District of California, from February 1990 through February 2011. The court is headquartered in San Francisco. In April 2011, Judge Walker returned to private practice focusing on arbitration and mediation services.

Mediation calls for different skills from those of an arbitrator or a judge. The mediator is attempting to bring the parties together and find the common ground that leads to a resolution.

Mediation skills resemble the skill sets that lawyers develop. Good lawyers have to be the advocates for their clients, but they also have to understand the position of their adversaries and tailor their presentations to the presentations being made on the other side. Plus, good lawyers retain a level of objectivity about their clients. This is essential to doing a good job for their clients.

A mediator has to have that same detachment with respect to both parties: to hear not only what they say but what they must surely mean.

–Vaughn R. Walker