Marvin Whistler, MC3-Certified Mediator and MC3 Board Member
MC3: As a new MC3 Board Member, are there particular things that drew you to the organization?
MW: As a non-attorney mediator, I’ve always believed in the establishment of standards for professional practice in our field. Attorney mediators are always going to have a prominent place in the work that we do and I believe that the majority of MC3-Certified Mediators are attorneys or have attended graduate level dispute resolution programs. That said. I believe our field is full of talented, experienced mediators who are not necessarily attorneys and I support MC3’s effort at recognizing the overall background, qualifications, and experience of all mediators, not only those who attended law school.
MC3: Marvin, you’ve been mediating for some time. How did you begin?
MW: I started mediating approximately 30 years ago, in 1991. I was working in real estate, and the man I was working for, who later became my partner, was a longtime mediator and arbitrator for real estate issues. He thought I might be good at it and encouraged me to try it. I remember not long after that, seeing an ad on TV, on public television, for the Los Angeles City Attorney’s dispute resolution program. They had a training which I took and, afterwards they asked us to sign up and continue working for the program for a year. From the very beginning, I just liked doing it and I just dove right into it, helping people with all kinds of issues.
My partner and I talked about opening a business mediation and arbitration business but, before it got off the ground, he became ill and I wasn’t capable of pursing it on my own at the time. I stayed in real estate for a while and eventually moved into investment counseling, something I did for 16 years, but I was always mediating on the side for the City Attorney.
MC3: And over time, if I’m correct, your mediation practice became primarily focused on family issues.
MW: That happened a little later. I went back to school to earn a master’s degree in negotiation and conflict management at Cal State Dominguez Hills. While I was there, I took time to specifically study and learn about divorce mediation. I had recently been divorced myself and it piqued my interest, and I began to give serious thought to focusing a mediation practice on helping divorcing parties navigate this difficult time in their lives.
There were other steps along the way – and I continue to mediate in other venues, particularly the Dependency Court within the LA Superior Court System – but that’s pretty much been my area of practice ever since.
MC3: Marvin, you have a large community of colleagues and friends that you’ve left in order to make a big move from Los Angeles to Columbus, Ohio. What prompted this big change in your life?
MW: Well, it’s something I’ve been thinking about for many years. In fact, early in my marriage my wife and I were actually planning to move to New England. And then life comes along. We had a child and it was difficult to leave the support system we had in Los Angeles. So we stayed. And basically, I built my life in Southern California, at least for as long as my daughter was there. And last year, when my now-adult daughter decided to move away, I said, “Well, why not? Or, if not now, when?” And, as for Ohio, I grew up not far from where I am so there’s some familiarity to my new surroundings.
MC3: And I presume you’re expecting to continue your work as a mediator in Columbus?
MW: Yes, I am. So far, I’ve been continuing to work in Los Angeles. With the advent of everyone being accepting of and comfortable with Zoom and other forms of virtual communication, it’s been a rather easy transition; One that I was actually making already. Even before COVID shut things down, I had decided that I was going to work virtually. I had closed my office and was well on my way to making this transition.
MC3: Have you had an opportunity to explore and better understand the mediation community in in Columbus?
MW: Actually, not much. I’ve done a little searching online and found a couple of organizations that I will eventually reach out to. But COVID has slowed that process. And, if the pandemic were not enough, I recently had knee replacement surgery. The surgery went well but it has unavoidably slowed my timeline somewhat.
I look forward to exploring this world but there’s not immediate pressure to do so. The establishment of my online practice will hopefully allow me to continue to mediate cases that are based in California, in Ohio and elsewhere,
MC3: Thank you Marvin. Good luck on your relocation. Know that you are missed by many in Southern California.
MW: I miss many people as well. Happily, I’m only a Zoom call away.