Philip Mediation Newsletter (March 2015)
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Article: Higginbotham Fellowship
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Sasha S. Philip
(425) 298-7839

Tip of the Day: 

To exercise maximum control over the outcome of negotiations, make the first proposal. Although negotiators are generally able to evaluate an offer based on multiple characteristics, studies have shown that they tend to focus on a single characteristic. As such, the initial offer or proposal (the "anchor") has a stronger influence on the outcome of negotiations than subsequent counteroffers.
Last week, I received my acceptance letter to the American Arbitration Association’s (AAA) 2016 Higginbotham Fellows program. This fellowship is designed “to offer the full breadth of the AAA resources for emerging diverse alternative dispute resolution professionals.” As such, I will be spending the first week of May in New York City engaging with leading ADR practitioners, and the program will then offer a year of additional seminar and networking opportunities.
My interest in the fellowship began at the ABA’s 2015 Dispute Resolution Conference in Seattle. Having participated in audience comments at a panel presentation, I found myself having a conversation about diversity and my role in it. This eventually turned into a full-fledged article for the November issue of the ABA’s Just Resolutions newsletter.
I must admit that I do not usually refer to myself as “diverse”. Although I know that many people who look at me see a woman of color, the way I think of myself is far more complicated. As I wrote in November:
In Germany, where I spent the first 16 years of my life, “Sascha” is a boy’s name. I am female, not male. (This resulted in much confusion when I entered school, registered for tennis tournaments or piano auditions, and when I received a letter from the German government ordering me to report for military service at age 18, which is mandatory for men.) Both “Sasha” and “Philip” tend to be White or Caucasian names. I was born in India to Indian parents, and am clearly neither White nor Caucasian in appearance. I always elicit a laugh when I ask new acquaintances whether I look as blond and blue-eyed as they expected me to look based on my name and nationality. Because my name is not particularly “ethnic”, and because I grew up speaking English in addition to German, most assume that I am American, with an unusual accent. But while I have lived in the U.S. for more than 20 years and am a permanent resident, I am a German citizen and a first-generation immigrant, having moved to Seattle as a foreign exchange student in high school.
Despite all the admonishments to not judge a book by its cover, we generally do just that, and often for very legitimate reasons. My “cover” – at least if you know me only on paper – is that of a U.S.-born Caucasian attorney mediator, gender (based on my name) uncertain. In a historically Caucasian and male-dominated profession, I expect that this has served me rather well.
Nonetheless, I am certainly “different” on several levels – and I have always struggled with how much of this is appropriate fodder for marketing, and how much is cheap pandering to the idea that I must utilize my differences to distinguish myself from others. My hope is that the Higginbotham Fellowship will allow me to interact with other ADR professionals who are asking themselves similar questions.

But most importantly, I am simply excited to have been selected for this opportunity to learn from recognized leaders in the field of ADR.

 Mediation News & Events

  • Registration is open for the 2016 Northwest Dispute Resolution Conference, which will be held March 24-25 at the University of Washington School of Law. Early Bird registration rates are available until Thursday, March 17.
  • The WSBA ADR Section will be hosting a "Preview to the Northwest DR Conference" TODAY, March 15, at 6 p.m. at Impact Hub Seattle.
  • I recently created "Greater Seattle Mediators" LinkedIn and Facebook groups that are intended to provide a forum for mediators to exchange ideas, let each other know about upcoming events, and share general information that may be of interest to the mediation community. If you are a mediator in the Greater Seattle area and would like to connect with other mediators, please feel free to contact me.
I am writing this newsletter during a power outage, by candlelight and the glow of my laptop computer. The windstorm has passed, and without the usually ubiquitous hum of appliances and electronics around the house, it feels eerily – and beautifully – quiet and peaceful.
Sasha S. Philip is the owner and founder of Philip Mediation, providing dispute resolution and conflict management services to clients in Seattle and the Pacific Northwest. When she is not conducting a mediation or arbitration, coaching mediation students or teaching at Seattle University School of Law, you will find Sasha singing with the Seattle Symphony Chorale, cooking, gardening, playing table-tennis or kayaking.

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