About Joseph Ferraro's mediating style and skill:
From Robert E. Izmirian, Attorney at Law, San Francisco, CA:
... A successful mediator needs to be a terrific listener, a hard worker and a creative problem solver. You exhibit all three of these important traits. In our matter you were able to cut through the legal posturings and the personalities of the parties to define and limit the legal and factual issues, something that the party litigants were unable to do on their own. Through your hard work you quickly grasped the essential needs of each of the litigants and worked very hard to bring them together in spite of their self-professed interests in litigating the case to the last remaining dollar....
From Thomas W. Cain, Program Director, The Congress of Neutrals (a not for profit corporation providing mediation, education and conciliation services), Walnut Creek, CA:
... I can recommend the mediation services of Joseph Ferraro, without hesitation. He has the combination of demeanor, attention to detail, training and experience which have made him a successful mediator for The Congress of Neutrals. I was particularly impressed by his ability to approach all parties with respect, achieve settlement in a number of cases he had mediated for us, and he is reliable and professional.... Other mediators have reported favorably of his services. It has been a pleasure to observe him and his kind and courteous treatment of litigants at the Superior Court....
From Steven R. Levy, Attorney at Law, Morgan Hill, CA:
... It comes as good news that Joseph Ferraro has established his independent practice....
A mediator should foster discussion and exchange, mostly between the parties, and in such a fashion that leads to an understanding. A mediator's primary goal should not be to get the case settled at any cost and should never "twist arms" too hard. The parties will ordinarily and eventually have their "arms twisted" at a judicial settlement conference. The mediator's primary task should be to establish and maintain an aura that leads to candid discussion and if the discussion leads to an understanding, so be it. This may just be one opinion, but it is one about which I feel strongly.
I recently went to Santa Clara Superior Court for a mandatory settlement conference. In 22 years of practice, I cannot recall ever going to a settlement conference more certain that not only would the case not settle, but also that it could not be settled.
This was the second of two cases between the same parties. No amount of "arm twisting" was apt to settle the case and would only serve to further polarize the parties. A motion for summary judgment on behalf of my client had been successful in the first case and it was clear to me that this success "strengthened plaintiff's resolve" to prevail in the second case. My feelings were so strong that I had essentially finalized all my trial preparation several weeks earlier. I expected to be in and out of the courthouse in less than an hour. My client's feelings were similar.
The case had been assigned to Mr. Ferraro. He instilled a feeling of warmth and sincerity just with the casual introductions. In a matter of minutes, two things were perfectly clear:
1. He had obviously taken the time to thoroughly familiarize himself with the case (no last minute scramble to review the file, something that I think creates a lack of confidence if not discomfort); and
2. He was NOT going to simply twist arms, but was going to approach the matter in the nature of mediation with the utmost of patience and sensitivity. Discussion began shortly after 9:00 a.m. He went to great lengths to keep everybody together to talk. It was easy to see that he did NOT want to split up the parties and proceed with shuttle diplomacy. By about 10:00 a.m., I sensed that there actually was a chance the case might resolve. My client had independently come to feel the same.
By about 11:00 a.m., Mr. Ferraro had fostered more meaningful and candid discussion between the parties than had occurred in a year and half of litigation in two cases. It was also clear that he was not going to rush anyone or anything. His patience and commitment seemed unlimited.
By about noon, the general framework and concept for resolution had surfaced, but a plethora of details were involved. Even though opposing counsel and I had been extremely cooperative and pleasant with one another, many of the details left us utterly stumped. It seemed as though every time that happened, we were able to make headway simply by turning to Mr. Ferraro and asking what he thought. It was easy to see that he was VERY careful about responding to our inquiries and always did so in a manner that instilled comfort and confidence even when his view could have been taken in the nature of "better for one side." He never offered an unsolicited view and his views were never questioned.
By 3:30 p.m., virtually everything was worked out. Mr. Ferraro took the lead for about half an hour to ensure that everything was covered and all concerned were in agreement as to all pertinent details.
By about 4:10 p.m., we were reciting the settlement on the record. By about 4:30 the case was concluded. I can't speak to the feelings of the other side, but I know that I and my client were very happy and left the courthouse with the belief that it had been an extremely positive experience....
On top of all this, his sense of ethics and morality struck me to be of the highest order. The settlement called for performance over a lengthy period of time and with a number of potentially subjective conditions. Because of this, we included a med/arb provision in the settlement agreement. We asked Mr. Ferraro if we would agree to serve as the predetermined ADR provider in the event of recourse to the med/arb procedure. He very politely declined saying he felt uncomfortable taking on that role because he had served as the judge pro tem for the settlement conference.
... I cannot envision any reasonable person walking away from an ADR proceeding with Mr. Ferraro and being unhappy with his effort or approach. If you want someone to "rule with a heavy hand" then maybe he is not the person you seek (although I sense he might be able to do it if need be), but if you want someone to mediate the case, it would be hard to find someone better suited to serve.
From Steven Rosenberg of RosenbergMediation, Mill Valley, CA:
... I had an opportunity to observe Joseph on an in depth basis when he was a participant in my 40 hour Mediation Training Course. That training included more than 12 separate role-plays and simulations. The course also covered the ethical obligations for mediators including the Standards for Mediators in Court Connected Mediation Programs. I was very favorably impressed by his performance in those role-play sessions. He has a firm understanding of mediation theory and an ability to translate those concepts to success in the mediation process. He understands the core principles of self-determination, impartiality and confidentiality and can apply them in mediation situations. Joseph combines a strong academic and legal background with an ability to listen and understand disputants' interests. In addition, his creative thinking, ability to connect with people and understand the real interests behind their respective positions are assets that he utilizes as a mediator.
He has volunteered as a mediator for the Courts in Contra Costa County and served as Judge Pro Tem for Santa Clara County Superior Court.
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