About Tricia A. Bigelow
Hon. Presiding Justice Tricia A. Bigelow (ret.) is a professional mediator, arbitrator, discovery referee, and appellate consultant. She served within the legal system in a variety of capacities over the course of her career in roles such as Deputy Attorney General, judge, Associate Justice, and Presiding Justice. Justice Bigelow currently works with Signature Resolution, where she assists parties with their mediation, arbitration, and appellate consulting needs. Justice Bigelow received her bachelor’s degree from California State University, Fullerton, and her J.D. from Pepperdine University and has 35 years of experience as an attorney and judge.
Throughout her career, Tricia Bigelow has made a point to remain active in her field. She is currently on the Board of Advisors at Pepperdine University School of Law. Previously, Justice Bigelow served as Chair of the Los Angeles Superior Court Civil Education Committee, was on the board of the Commission on the Future of California’s Court System and Association of Business and Trial Lawyers, was a member of CACI Jury Instruction Committee, and served as Dean of Bernard E. Witkin California Judicial College. Additionally, Tricia’s performance has been recognized through a variety of awards and accolades including the Ronald M. George Award of Excellence from the California Judicial Council, Bernard S. Jefferson Award from the California Judges Association, and the Alumnus of the Year Award from Pepperdine Law School.
Those who have worked with Tricia Bigelow as an attorney, judge, and within her current roles mention that she is a professional who maintains a caring approach to her areas of expertise and is profoundly committed to justice in every stage of the process. Justice Bigelow maintains that it is crucial for mediators to be patient in their approach and truly get to know the specifics of each party’s story to contribute to just, empathetic decisions. Tricia’s ability to carefully consider the facts, act as a calming presence in heated disputes, and remain impartial throughout proceedings are commonly cited as reasons she has been able to build a reputation as a trusted mediator, arbitrator, appellate consultant, and discovery referee.
Tricia Bigelow on the Qualities of Successful Mediators
Mediation has remained a common method of resolving conflicts and for a good reason. Mediators empower parties to resolve disputes more quickly and in a less expensive manner than typical trials while allowing both sides of the issue to maintain more control. Because of mediation’s important role in conflict resolution, it makes sense that the field requires a wide variety of hard and soft skills to truly be successful and, here, Tricia Bigelow explores a few qualities that she believes are key for successful mediators.
Neutrality is extremely important as a mediator because you are trusted to help handle even the most complex of disputes. Mediators must not favor any particular party and should be sure to avoid any behaviors that may suggest that they do. Tricia Bigelow mentions that mediators should be practiced at controlling their emotions regarding mediations and refrain from becoming emotionally invested in proceedings’ outcomes. The power of impartiality is that it helps mediators better consider the facts of the situation while not being held back by their personal opinions.
Perceptive and Investigative
Being perceptive and investigative can be very beneficial for mediators and the parties they are assisting as it helps to identify relevant information and leverage it to come to an understanding. Great mediators ask the right questions to gain a clearer understanding of the facts of the case at hand, parties’ interests, motivations, etc.
No two mediations are exactly the same, and the nature of the job involves dealing with varied personalities and a range of different dispute types. This is why adaptability is so important for mediators who truly want to help disputing parties come to fruitful conclusions. By being adaptable in your approach as a mediator, you are able to shift questioning and techniques to match the realities of the current situation and the people involved. Tailoring your processes to each dispute will empower better results and contribute to environments where each party can collaborate to resolve their conflicts professionally.
Maintaining empathy throughout each stage of the mediation process is crucial for mediators because the job requires handling knowledge of parties’ underlying interests carefully and emotionally intelligently. Mediation can involve asking emotionally difficult questions while taking care to do so in a respectful and unbiased way, and this is much easier when you are committed to an empathetic approach. At the end of the day, mediators are dealing with people who hope to get to the bottom of a disagreement. Understanding both sides, their motivations, interests, and the stakes involved can lead to a more efficient mediation process.
Excellent Communication Skills
As a function of their job duties, the most successful mediators are excellent communicators. Mediators should be adept at controlling the flow of communication, be knowledgeable of how to communicate in ways that are easily understood and accepted by disputing parties, and effectively read communication dynamics. Tricia Bigelow notes that listening, understanding, and presenting well are key for productive mediation sessions.
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