In searching for a topic for this week, I reviewed my colleague Linda Bulmash’s “Negotiation Tips” published monthly by the Los Angeles County Bar. Her topic for this month is using respect and grace in negotiation. Her point: Civility, respect and grace do much towards reaching an agreement.

These words hit me like a ton of bricks and/or struck me like a bolt of lightning. Although written two weeks ago for a different purpose, they suddenly seemed extremely appropriate in describing Richard Millen, – the “great great grandfather of the mediation movement” in Southern California – who passed away last week at the young age of 89. Although I had the pleasure of knowing Richard for only the last few years I, along with the rest of the mediation community, mourn his passing and will greatly miss him. I am only sorry that I did not meet him sooner and get to know him better.

To Richard – it was very important to discover what each party wanted and to help the parties achieve their respective goals. He looked beyond the deal and he did it with civility and grace which is why Ms. Bulmash’s article struck me. She was describing Richard Millen without realizing it.

As Ms. Bulmash suggests, Richard understood that each issue in a settlement held a different value to each party and as a negotiator and mediator, he sought to satisfy this “value” of each of the parties. He took the time to find out what the needs and interests of each of the parties were and see what he could do to assist the parties in fashioning a resolution that met those needs and interests and thus provided benefit to each party.

Ms. Bulmash’s next point – negotiation is not a competition – was well understood by Richard. In fact, he railed against the ultimate legal competition – litigation – always commenting that the attorney mediators have taken over or kidnapped the practice of mediation, to its detriment. To Richard, mediation must remain true to its roots: community mediation. Lawyers as mediators were an anathema to him.

Richard was the epitome of Ms. Bulmash’s next point – “show respect and acceptance of each party’s position.” He was always friendly and never got personal: he was the ultimate professional.

And with respect to Ms. Bulmash’s last point (be persistent) – he was, indeed, persistent – and it is because of his persistence that mediation in Southern California has blossomed and gained so much recognition. Without Richard, mediation would not be ubiquitous or a word used as often as “litigation”. Most importantly, without Richard, there probably would not be a Southern California Mediation Association of which he was one of the founders. Today, I am the president, carrying forward his vision and inspiration of 22 years ago into the future, to hand off to the next generation of ADR professionals. Without his inspiration and vision, I and so many others would not be where we are today.

We owe Richard Millen a lot and I only hope that my tribute does justice to him and to
that debt.:

Richard H. Millen – 1920 – 2010.

. . .Just something to think about.


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