Attorney at Law Magazine First Coast sat down with Robert Walker of Walker Mediation & Consulting to discuss his career.
AALM: Did you ever want to be anything besides a mediator? Did your family ever want you to be something else?
RW: My parents expected that I would follow in their footsteps and take up a career in education but never imposed. I would not say I never had any other interests apart from mediation, after all, I had a 34-year career spent mostly in a senior position at UPS. What I would say is that I never wanted anything more than to be a mediator.
AALM: What drew you to become a mediator?
RW: Over the years, I have occupied various positions of leadership in corporate and nonprofit organizations and having worked with people extensively, I observed that quite a few people struggled with some form of conflict or legal issues. I believe that a less contentious environment increases cooperation in any environment.
AALM: What benefits do you believe mediation offers clients and attorneys alike?
RW: Proper mediation can mitigate conflict without all the potential ugliness associated with legal settlements. Mediation also has the added advantage of affording parties an increase amount of self-determination and a quicker resolution, while remaining confidential.
AALM: What experiences in your career have taught you the most?
RW: Working and traveling around the world and dealing with people of different cultures, I had to learn to listen more and not try to impose my beliefs and opinions on people. It is important to acknowledge that everyone possesses inherited and unconscious biases, and that perspectives should be respected. Adopting the philosophy of “to each his own,” I have learned to see things through multiple lens.
AALM: What do you most hope to accomplish in the future?
RW: What I desire most is to find novel ways to help alleviate displeasure arising from disputes and to become the absolute best mediator. I am a service-driven individual, and essentially, I want to help people the best way that I can in the area of dispute resolution.
AALM: What is the best compliment you’ve received?
RW: I have been told that I have an even keel demeanor and temperament as a mediator. This is entirely different from what was thought of me in my previous career as I was perceived to be erratically aggressive. This, to me, is a testament to my personal and professional growth.
AALM: What do you find most rewarding in your day-to-day work as a mediator?
RW: There are situations when mediation is mandatory. Parties must go through the process such as, for instance, when their contract requires it as part of a conflict alleviation process. Likewise, there are situations that the court may require mediation. I find it gratifying when people come to mediation expecting nothing but to check the box and are eventually able to come to some form of resolution to their dispute.