Ben Norris 0000-00-00 00:00:00
Alan Goldman Alan Goldman’s mediation practice brings comfort and experience together to create resolutions for litigants involved in personal injury or wrongful death disputes. Goldman doesn’t woo his clientele with adorned conference rooms or cherry wood tables. He’s been in the same office for 40 years, a converted home near 7th Street and Thomas. His walls are covered in Western movie posters from the 1930s, and he’s quick to point out, nothing’s ever quite as simple as it seems to be in those old films. “These little movies had black and white issues,” Goldman said, pointing to the one on a wall behind his desk, a hero racing on horseback toward the edge of a cliff with a posse of bandits giving chase. “They were little morality plays where at the end of the day the good guy wins and the bad guy loses. The good guy gets the girl and kisses the horse. These don’t represent reality and they never did. Reality isn’t black and white. Few cases are black and white. Each side has a narrative they subscribe to.” Goldman spends his career merging narratives, finding resolutions that reflect reality, not unrealistic expectations. He has mediated thousands of personal injury or wrongful death cases throughout his career. “Let me just say I have, without a doubt, the best job in the world,” Goldman said. “When I was a trial lawyer I had over 200 cases that were always spinning around in my head. When you are a mediator you get immediate results. You don’t sleep with these cases. You don’t take a shower with these cases.” Goldman spent decades litigating personal injury and wrongful death claims on behalf of both plaintiffs and defendants. Eventually, a friend approached him about presiding over a mediation. He did it a few times as a favor and quickly earned a reputation for his ability to get cases resolved. Before he knew it, he was mediating full-time. He sticks to what he knows best, personal injury and wrongful death. Goldman doesn’t take business or divorce cases, choosing to focus on an area he knows intimately. “I know the subject matter,” Goldman said. “It’s very rare that I get a case to mediate that I haven’t seen in one form or another before.” Keeping Litigants Out of Court Goldman’s philosophy about mediation and arbitration is simple: even a bad settlement can be better than a good lawsuit and he believes keeping cases out of the courtroom is in everybody’s best interest. As a reader of the Trial Reporter, Goldman knows very well how many civil negligence cases go to trial and end with the plaintiff getting less than was originally offered in the settlement, about 80 percent in Maricopa County, he estimates. To compromise, Goldman has to work to make sure expectations on both sides reflect reality, not an easy task in the post-McDonald’s suit world. That case is still brought up frequently in mediations, Goldman admits. Getting expectations in line is an area where Goldman thrives. He generally settles cases in a matter of hours and typically conducts two mediations a day, one in the morning and one in the afternoon. One of the reasons Goldman says he “has the best job in the world” is because he benefits from the mediation process as well. “Through these mediations, I’m always learning. Not just about the law, but other things. If it’s a product liability case, you learn how the product works. You learn about medicine, engineering, accounting, and just about every endeavor that you can imagine. Almost every case has some unique feature.” Another aspect Goldman enjoys is talking with other lawyers on a daily basis, keeping up with the latest legal developments in his area of practice while working with his fellow lawyers to reach a resolution. Understanding Litigants and Lawyers Alike Goldman’s background is decidedly “blue-collar.” He was the first one in his family to graduate from high school and he didn’t just head off to college. Goldman has worked on an automobile assembly line, at a paper factory, a furniture factory and a bakery, to name just a few. College didn’t become an option until Goldman suffered an injury that made manual labor all but impossible. A three-piece suit never found its way into Goldman’s wardrobe and to this day he comes to work clad in jeans, a blazer and the well worn boots of someone who has spent half a century living in the Arizona desert. “I’m someone who is there to help people,” Goldman said. “People are nervous and uneasy around lawyers. When it comes to talking to working people, people who have to use their hands and back to make a living, I think I can relate and speak their language.” As a trial lawyer, he would wear a blue blazer, slacks, and, of course his boots (he has over 25 pair), looking more like a juror than a trial lawyer. The varied backgrounds of jurors and litigants seeking mediation, in many ways reflect his experiences. You have to be able to empathize to be a mediator, not just with the litigants, but with the attorneys. Having been a trial lawyer for over 30 years, Goldman knows what it is like to sit at both the plaintiff ’s table and the defense table. Most litigants that appear at mediation are taking their first trip through the justice system and need a skilled mediator to help bring the case into perspective and toward resolution. “You have to remember when you do a mediation everyone involved is a professional in the area except the plaintiff,” Goldman said. “The plaintiff is operating in a totally foreign, and often uncomfortable, world.” Goldman’s success has come, in part, through his ability to make that world seem a little less foreign and a lot more comfortable. Goldman says the key is in knowing how to communicate with insurance companies as well as plaintiffs, who don’t view or approach many legal issues through the same lens. His years of doing work for insurance companies has enabled him to speak their language, as well as the injured parties’ language. “We have an adversarial system,” Goldman said. “Plaintiff ’s attorney is advocating for the plaintiff, defense counsel is advocating for the defense, and I am an advocate for compromise.” Litigation has become very costly. This is particularly true in smaller cases. Goldman says, “I remember when the filing fee was $45.00 and the best medical expert in town would come to court and testify for $750.00. Those days are long gone. It really is essential that the parties attempt to mediate a resolution before they spend themselves into a corner, making the case impossible to settle. “ Clients are often “unhappy” with a mediated settlement, and in fact, it is not uncommon for both sides to think that they have made a bad deal. However, the truth is, a trial has winners and losers. In a mediation, no one loses. Alan Goldman, PC Mediation and Arbitration of Personal Injury and Wrongful Death 2930 N. 7th Street Phoenix, AZ 85006 602-264-9307 Admissions • Arizona Supreme Court • United States District Court for the District of Arizona • New York Supreme Court • Circuit Court of Appeals, Ninth Circuit Certifications • Certified by the State Bar of Arizona as a Specialist in Personal Injury and Wrongful Death litigation Memberships • American Trial Lawyers Association • Arizona Trial Lawyers Association – former Board Member • American Board of Trial Advocates Experience • 1966-1967 - Maricopa County Legal Aid Society, Staff Attorney • 1967-1971 - Private practice in Phoenix, Arizona • 1971-2008 - Goldman & Kaplan, Ltd., Partner • 2009-Present - Alan Goldman, P.C. Interests and Hobbies • Alan Goldman is an avid art collector and enthusiast, concentrating primarily on the abstract expressionists. • He doesn’t play golf but has a golfer’s tan because he loves to garden. • When it’s time to unwind, he enjoys a whiskey or two and a good cigar. Little Known Facts • Alan Goldman has worked out of the same office for 40 years, a converted home near 7th Street and Thomas. • His dedicated assistant, Linda has worked with Goldman since the doors opened. • Goldman is a Western man through and through and owns at least 25 pairs of cowboy boots. • The Western movie posters on his office walls are all originals, dating back to the early 1930s. • Before attending law school, Goldman worked a number of odd jobs, including an auto assembly line, paper factory and a bakery.
Published by Target Market Media . View All Articles.
This page can be found at http://digitaleditions.walsworthprintgroup.com/article/MEDIATOR+of+the+MONTH/959032/98228/article.html.