San Diego Voyager reached out to ask if they could interview me for a story on local entrepreneurs. I explained that my business is based in Arlington, Virginia. The reporter was still interested in hearing my story since I spent last February working remotely from La Jolla. Thank you SD Voyager! Click on the link or read the article below:
Today we’d like to introduce you to Ellice (also known as Lisa) Halpern.
Hi Ellice, so excited to have you with us today. What can you tell us about your story?
I am a mediator and own my business Little Falls Mediation. I have always loved La Jolla, and last February my husband and I both decided to work remotely from La Jolla for a month. My business is based in Arlington, Virginia.
I started off as a lawyer. I worked in an executive branch agency, then worked in the U.S. Senate for Senator Ted Stevens from Alaska. I then worked as Washington counsel for the American Medical Association. After I had three children, I decided I wanted to take charge of my schedule. I trained to become a mediator in 2010 and opened my business in 2015.
Would you say it’s been a smooth road, and if not, what are some of the biggest challenges you’ve faced along the way?
I waited five years to open my business. I wanted to make sure that I had enough experience and confidence mediating cases first. So before I opened my business, I mediated many cases in D.C. Courts in three separate divisions: the Small Claims Division, the Family Mediation Program, and the Judge in Chambers Program. These programs are all part of Multi-Door Dispute Resolution in Washington, D.C.
After I opened my business, I needed to learn when I could do things myself — such as build my own website and write my own blogs — and when to hire people to help me — such as hiring a bookkeeper, an accountant, and a summer associate.
At one point, I was mediating court-referred cases, teaching law school, and mediating private cases through my business, Little Falls Mediation all at the same time. In 2021, during the pandemic, I decided to focus solely on my business and to stop teaching law school after 8 semesters, and to stop mediating court-referred cases after a decade. This decision was a good one as it allowed me to work with many more clients and to grow my business.
One thing that I looked forward to for a full year was living and working remotely in California in 2023 for the month of February. Sadly, my father was diagnosed with Covid at the end of January in Florida just before we left and died 30 days later. Much of my time in La Jolla was spent trying to help him from afar along with my siblings who were in New York and New Jersey. I also had to leave La Jolla mid-February for a visit to the Florida hospital where my father was fighting for his life. My husband and I will for sure return to the La Jolla area soon to work remotely again since we love the state of California and the West Coast.
Thanks for sharing that. So, maybe next, you can tell us a bit more about your business.
My business is a mediation practice. I am a lawyer who has evolved into a neutral mediator. I help my clients to resolve disputes in family, community, workplace, and business matters. My mission is to provide a caring, empathetic environment where clients feel comfortable, safe, and empowered in discussing and resolving conflict. Mediation is collaborative and cooperative rather than competitive and adversarial.
My brand is threefold: rapid response, kindness, and competence. I am most proud of these three factors because my clients come to me in times of great stress, and I treat them exactly as I would want to be treated.
I am a guest professor once each fall and once each spring at American University. I teach Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) to college students. I also created and taught my own experiential Alternative Dispute Resolution and Mediation classes for 8 semesters at George Mason University’s Scalia Law School from Fall 2017 through Spring 2021. (I taught ADR each fall and Mediation each spring.) Teaching helps to make me a better mediator.
What was your favorite childhood memory?
I used to love to watch the Buffalo Bills outdoors (it was cold!) and the Buffalo Sabres play indoors growing up in Buffalo!
Ellice Halpern, J.D., is a Virginia Supreme Court certified general and family mediator.