Loved talking to Canvas Rebel about the first dollar I ever made, my background, my brand, and all things mediation. Read the article here or below: canvasrebel.com/meet-ellice-lisa-halpern/
STORIES & INSIGHTS
Meet Ellice (Lisa) Halpern
NOVEMBER 9, 2023
We caught up with the brilliant and insightful Ellice (Lisa) Halpern a few weeks ago and have shared our conversation below.
Ellice (Lisa), looking forward to hearing all of your stories today. The first dollar your business earns is always special and we’d love to hear how your brand made its first dollar of revenue.
I was training to become a family mediator in 2015. Training was a process which involved observing a mediation with a mentor mediator, co-mediating a case together, and then mediating on my own with my mentor mediator observing me. I worked on a divorce case during my training with my mentor mediator, Rick. I noticed that Rick was really good with the financial issues so I handled the parenting plan issues and acknowledged the emotion that was present between the parties. We were a good team.
A few months after we wrote a marital settlement agreement for this couple, I received an email that I should go buy the December issue of Northern Virginia magazine. The cover story was “”Til Divorce Do Us Part”. There were three paragraphs in the article about my co-mediator and me. A reporter had interviewed this couple, unbeknownst to me, about using mediation in the divorce process. The three paragraphs were extremely complimentary about the work that we had done with this couple. “…they kept two hardheaded people on task and focused. When we were being counterproductive, they kept us calm and on topic…if we had gone to mediators from the start, we would have been done in two months at a fraction of the cost…I can’t say enough about how much we appreciate our mediators.”
My first client called me after reading the cover story in Northern Virginia magazine. I’ll never forget the thrill that I felt when she said she had read the cover story and wanted to hire me!
As always, we appreciate you sharing your insights and we’ve got a few more questions for you, but before we get to all of that can you take a minute to introduce yourself and give our readers some of your back background and context?
After law school, I worked in the executive branch of government in Washington, D.C., then went up to Capitol Hill to work as Minority Counsel on a Subcommittee of the U,S. Senate Governmental Affairs Committee. My boss was Senator Ted Stevens from Alaska. I then became a lobbyist for the American Medical Association.
After I had three children, I decided to train to become a mediator. Mediation is a form of alternative dispute resolution in which the parties to a dispute are empowered to identify the issues, brainstorm solutions, evaluate solutions, and reach joint decisions. After I was certified by the Virginia Supreme Court to be a general mediator and a family mediator, I started working at Multi-Door Dispute Resolution in D.C. Courts, handling court referred cases in the Small Claims, Family, and Judge in Chambers programs. I wanted to mediate as many cases as I could to gain experience. Eventually, I decided to open my own mediation practice, Little Falls Mediation. I help my clients to resolve family, business, workplace, and community matters.
My brand is competence, kindness, and rapid response. My clients come to me when they are undergoing great stress, and I treat them exactly as I would want to be treated.
Can you tell us about a time you’ve had to pivot?
When I started mediating, mediators were trained to work with clients face to face. It is important that parties to a dispute feel comfortable, safe, and empowered to discuss and resolve conflict. Mediators need to establish trust with their clients.
I remember when the pandemic first started, I said out loud that online mediation could not be accomplished effectively. I was not sure how to establish trust and to convey warmth if I was not meeting with clients in person and looking them directly in the eye. Of course, I was wrong and I’ve been mediating online since March of 2020. My clients like the convenience of mediating from the comfort of their offices or homes.
Any stories or insights that might help us understand how you’ve built such a strong reputation?
My brand is kindness, competence, and rapid response. I am also very transparent about what mediation costs with my clients. I give them choices. I am famous for giving homework assignments during a mediation session and for drafting session notes after a mediation session that clearly outlines what clients agreed to during mediation and what homework assignments they should complete before we meet again. I tend to get clients in and out of mediation which they greatly appreciate. My clients tell me all the time how much they appreciate these four factors: kindness, competence, rapid response, and transparency about mediation costs.
Tim Coburn Photography
Ellice Halpern, J.D., is a Virginia Supreme Court certified general and family mediator.