Forrest (Woody) Mosten

Mediator and Collaborative Attorney

Certified Family Law Specialist

Forrest S. Mosten Biography

Los Angeles Mediator Forrest "Woody" Mosten


Forrest S. Mosten is in mediation and collaborative law practice in Beverly Hills and La Jolla and is the author of Collaborative Divorce Handbook (Jossey-Bass, 2010), The Complete Guide to Mediation 2nd Edition (ABA, 2015), Unbundling Legal Services (ABA, 2017), Mediation Career Guide (Jossey-Bass, 2001), and Building a Successful Collaborative Practice (ABA, 2018). He specializes in high conflict mediations involving divorcing families, partnerships, employment disputes, probate, real estate, commercial disputes and other complex civil lawsuits.

Mr. Mosten has been honored by the ABA, LA County Bar Association, Beverly Hills Bar Association, Southern California Mediation Association, New York Council of Divorce Mediation, and Academy of Professional Family Mediators. Woody trains mediators and collaborative professionals worldwide. His pioneering work has been covered by the LA Daily Journal, LA Times, NY Times, USA Today, ABA Journal, LA Daily News, Chicago Tribune, the Wall Street Journal, Town & Country and other publications all over the world.

He is a member of the San Diego and Los Angeles Bar Associations, International Academy of Collaborative Professionals, San Diego and Los Angeles Collaborative Law Groups, and the Association of Family and Conciliation Courts.

Woody is also a member of a small team of independent collaborative professionals and mediators serving Southern California.

Collaborative Family Law Group Member Spotlight on Forrest Woody Mosten

Watch Woody’s 7-Part Interview about the Development of his Peacemaking Career on 

Part 1  Part 2  Part 3  Part 4  Part 5  Part 6  Part 7 (YouTube links)

Professional Background

Forrest S. Mosten has been in private mediation practice since 1979. Mr. Mosten is in constant demand as a master trainer for basic courses, advanced courses, individual supervision for practicing mediators, conflict resolution professionals, and training other conflict resolution trainers. He is popular presenter at conferences throughout the world.

In addition to his work as a neutral, Mr. Mosten maintains an active practice as a family lawyer representing clients in divorce, pre-marital agreements, and complex issues in property, support, and parenting issues after divorce. The California State Bar has recognized Mr. Mosten as a Certified Family Law Specialist. Mr. Mosten does not accept engagements that involve court appearances. He practices with a collaborative and problem solving model and has trained Collaborative Lawyers throughout the world and serves as a negotiation and mediation consultant for other family litigators. Mr. Mosten has been named Super Lawyer by Los Angeles Lawyer Magazine and as one of the top 25 Family Mediators in California by the Los Angeles Daily Journal.

Mr. Mosten has been given two major awards by the American Bar Association: A Lifetime Achievement Award for Innovations in Legal Access by the ABA Section of Delivery of Legal Services; and the Lawyer as Problem Solver Award by the ABA Section on Dispute Resolution.

Mr. Mosten is asked about several of his contributions to the field by PeaceTalksLA.

Mr. Mosten teaches mediation as a member of the faculty of the UCLA School of Law. He also teaches in the Dispute Resolution Program at Pepperdine School of Law. He has taught at USC Law Center, Hamline School of Law, Whittier School of Law, SMU, and University of San Diego School of Law, and was Director of Clinical Education and law professor at the Mercer School of Law.

Mr. Mosten is recognized as the “Father of Unbundling” for his pioneering work in promoting Limited Scope and Discrete Task Services for lawyers to play a major and effective role in mediations. His ABA book Unbundling Legal Services: A Guide to Delivering Legal Services A La Carte was published in 2000. He served as a Keynote Speaker at the first national conference on unbundling in October 2000 in Baltimore and published the first article on the subject in the ABA Family Law Quarterly in 1994.

Mr. Mosten has also been credited as the inventor of the Client Library and the Confidential Mini-Evaluation, and as an authority on preventive law, including the use of the Conflict Wellness/Personal Legal Check-Up, first developed by Mr. Mosten’s mentor, Professor Louis M. Brown.

Mr. Mosten has been named 1999 Peacemaker of the Year and Conference Keynote Speaker three times by the Southern California Mediation Association, was awarded the Louis. M. Brown Conflict Prevention Award by the Los Angeles County Bar Association, and is the founding Chair of the Dispute Resolution Section of the Beverly Hills Bar Association and recipient of its President’s Award for his work in mediation. He served as Chair of the ADR Committee of the Family Law Section of the Los Angeles County Bar Association and has been Chair of the International Client Counseling Competition affiliated with the International Bar Association since 1989. This prestigious law school activity now bears his name

Mr. Mosten is actively engaged in a number of initiatives to increase the awareness and use of conflict resolution and prevention in our society. He was the Chair of the ACR Taskforce to establish a National Peacemaker Museum and is a key thinker and supporter of the movement to form a US Department of Conflict Resolution and Prevention. In 2006, the Southern California Mediation Association established the SCMA/Forrest S. Mosten Mediation Library Fund to set up citizen information centers on conflict resolution at institutions throughout Southern California. In 2007, the University of California at Riverside established the Forrest S. Mosten Peacemaking and Conflict Resolution Program to form an academic Minor Degree in this area of study, an annual Scholar in Residence and Lecture Program, and a student internship program. Mr. Mosten was the inaugural Scholar in Residence; his lecture was “Peacemaking: From Kindergarten to the Middle East.” In 2008, Mr.Mosten was the Commencement Speaker for the university asking graduates to “Take a Peacemaker Pledge.”

His innovations in mediation and legal access have been reported in the Los Angeles Times, the Wall Street Journal, USA Today, Business Week, The New York Times, the Los Angeles Daily Journal, the Chicago Tribune, the ABA Journal and many other publications throughout the world.

Mr. Mosten is a Phi Beta Kappa graduate of the University of California, Riverside and received his Juris Doctorate at the UCLA School of Law. He is married to Dr. Jody Mosten, a Clinical Psychologist. He has a daughter, Jordana Mosten, and a stepson, Derek Grotzinger, who is married to Julie. Woody is a passionate golfer whose handicap ranges from 12 to 17, depending on his workload.

Interview Series with Norman Kolasky

After keynoting the 2015 Annual Conference of the Ontario Mediation Association, Norman Kowalsky of Toronto Norman Kolasky conducted the following 8 part interview

(click on the title and enter the password to view).

Woody Mosten talking about Mediation & Collaborative Practice

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Woody's early years getting established

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Woody’s Personal story with Stu Web

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Personal Core Values as the Foundation of Building a Peacemaking Practice

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Collaborative Law evolved separately from Mediation

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Collaborative Law transitioning to Collaborative Practice

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Equal acknowledgement given to all professionals in Collaborative Practice

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The Intake Process

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Mediation Experience

Since starting as a professional mediator in 1979, I have resolved hundreds of disputes both privately and as a court appointed mediator. My cases are referred nationwide by litigators, judges, corporate counsel, therapists, accountants, other professionals and former clients. I am most gratified by referrals from other mediators, many of whom I have personally trained and mentored.

Case Examples:

  • Family:
    Many high profile parties involving complex financial and legal issues with lawyers, appraisers, and therapists participating in the mediations both in session and out.
  • Construction Defect:
    30 parties and over 100 people at 7-day mediation conducted at Los Angles Dept of Water and Power.
  • Employment:
    Many matters involving large companies as well as small businesses.
  • Business:
    Partnership dissolutions, restructure of investors, and conflicts in real estate investment.
  • Condo Association-Developer Disputes:
    Involving fraud and construction defects.
  • Entertainment:
    Rock band dispute over royalties, mismanagement, copyright infringement, and legal malpractice.
  • Organizational Disputes:
    Native Indian Intra Tribal Disputes and with Third Parties; schools and universities on all levels; governmental disputes.

Summary of interview with Forrest Mosten on the Doug Noll Show

Part I: Ever wonder what a legend looks and sounds like? We hear about these amazing human beings and rarely have the chance to talk with them let alone have them share their stories and journeys with us. One of the great things about being a radio host is that I get to seek out legends for all of us to talk with. This show features one such legend. Forrest "Woody" Mosten is a mediator, collaborative attorney, author, and Adjunct Professor of Law at the UCLA School of Law who is in high demand as a keynote conference speaker and conflict resolution trainer throughout the world. Named as a Los Angeles Super Lawyer in Family Law and Mediation, Woody maintains an active practice as a family lawyer and never goes to court. As a disclaimer, I will also tell you that Woody and I are core faculty members of the American Institute of Mediation. Doug asks Woody to tell a little bit about his personal journey. Woody tells us that he started as a founding member of Jacoby and Myers in 1972. The concept behind the firm was to provide storefront legal services for the middle class. The firm opened in September 1972, but in November 1972, the firm received a letter from the California State Bar saying that it was being charged with ethical violations. The State Bar ultimately suspended Jacoby and Meyers for 45 days. However, in the end, the suspension was overturned by the California Supreme Court, and the justices ruled the Jacoby and Mayer were acting in the highest principles of the legal profession in trying to provide access to legal services to the middle class.

Part II: Woody says that he was not suspended by the State Bar because he was not yet a lawyer. He had graduated from law school in the spring of 1972 and sat for the July 1972 bar exam. Although he had passed the bar, he was not admitted into practice until December of 1972. Doug and Woody talk about the recent article by California Supreme Court Justice Ron George, stating the need for unbundled legal services and better access to legal services for the middle class. Woody tells the story of a case involving two women who were arrested for being topless on a Los Angeles beach. Woody defended the women before then trial judge Ron George. Judge George found that women technically guilty, but find them $25 total, payable one dollar per week. Doug asks Woody to talk a little bit about collaborative law. Woody says that collaborative law is a dream come true for him. It is a new way of being for lawyers who have been trained in adversary ideology, but do not care for the contentiousness of that ideology. In a family law setting, the clients sign a contract along with the lawyers representing them. The contract says that if the parties do not settle the case or if anyone wants to go to court, the current lawyers must be discharged, and everyone must hire new workers to start over again.

Part III: Collaborative law started with a lawyer in Minneapolis, Stu Webb. Webb found that families were often poorer and more conflicted than before they began divorce proceedings in court. Webb encouraged some colleagues to form a study group, and they agreed on some ground rules. They agreed that in divorces in which they were representing parties, there would be no court appearances, there would be full disclosure of all information, there would treat each other with mutual respect, and the goal would be to solve problems. This was a hugely successful experiment. It turns out that the vast majority of people prefer to go to lawyers who will not go to court and will help them solve problems. Woody tells us about Roy Disney's divorce. Woody represented Roy, who was both a friend and client. The family wanted a confidential process, and collaborative law was perfect for them. Woody tells us that divorce does not require that family privacy be violated, and that people can get what they need without undue antagonism through a collaborative law agreement.

Part IV: Doug asks Woody about his latest article, Lawyer as Peacemaker. How does peacemaking differ from mediation or case settlement? Woody says that is when we engage in peacemaking, we are helping people go beyond the symptoms of the conflict to a deeper place emotionally and spiritually. Peacemaking is a learning process, a reflective process, and an engaged process to help people make their lives better. Lawyers have a great opportunity to be peacemakers for clients, and those lawyers that engage in it derive great satisfaction from their work. Doug asks Woody about his new book, Collaborative Divorce Handbook: Helping Families without Going to Court. Woody said that he felt that there needed to be a book that would help integrate mediation, unbundled legal services, and legal representation of families and divorce into one volume. In addition, many different kinds of professionals are becoming involved in collaborative law, and they need a reference book to give them background on what collaborative law is all about.

Style of Mediation

I employ strategic planning and a full toolbox of mediation tactics. I work with parties and counsel to design a process that will resolve their dispute. While I prefer low-key, safe, and a facilitative tone and format, I increase directive and evaluative approaches where necessary. My article, “Muscle Mediation”
demonstrates that I can play hard-ball if necessary in order to settle a case.

I have pioneered the use of pre-mediation private sessions with parties in order to prepare them to maximize success at the joint sessions.

I prefer non-confidential briefs so that counsel can educate and persuade the other side and help bring reality and dissonance into risk analysis.

I urge parties and counsel to both make opening statements to encourage participation in the process and stimulate discussion that motivates movement.

No two mediations have ever been identical—I am usually retained due to my creative and innovative approach to designing format and helping develop comprehensive and workable settlements. I am both patient and tireless. I never give up and often my confidence is the single factor that motivates conflicted parties to reach settlement.

Conflict is pernicious—ending it with dignity and a workable solution frees parties to cut losses and move on with their lives. I urge parties to focus on one variable: “Can I Live with This Agreement?”


Have been in continuous training since starting to mediate in 1979. In addition to basic and advanced courses in civil and family mediation, I have taken specialized training in international mediation and arbitration, mediation in mass tort actions, and facilitation of conflict resolution in the workplace.


  • Juris Doctor, UCLA (1972)
  • Bachelor of Arts, University of California, Riverside (Phi Beta Kappa), 1969.
  • Admitted to Law Practice in California (1972) and Georgia (1977-Inactive)

Other Qualifications

  • Charter Member, Los Angeles County Bar Dispute Resolution Section, Executive Committee.
  • Convener: Training Mediators for the 21st Century, Western Justice Center, Pasadena, California.
  • Founding Chair, Beverly Hills Bar ADR Section.
  • Chair numerous committees, ABA Dispute Resolution Section.
  • Chair, California State Bar Middle Income Committee.
  • Member, ABA IOLTA Commission.
  • Member, ABA Standing Committee on Dispute Resolution.
  • Chair, ABA Client Counseling Committee.
  • Executive Chair, Louis M. Brown and Forrest S. Mosten International Client Counseling Committee (since 1989).
  • Family Law Section Executive Committee Chair, Mediation Committee, Los Angeles County Bar Association.

For a conversation with Diana Mercer (author and founder of Peacetalks) about his contributions to the peacemaking field, click here.

Current Peacemaking Initiatives

Forrest S. Mosten is actively engaged in a number of initiatives to increase the awareness and use of conflict resolution and prevention in our society. In addition to his scholarship and teaching at the UCLA School of Law, Mr. Mosten’s projects include:

  • Chair of Brown-Mosten International Client Counseling Competition affiliated with IBA (since 1989)
  • Chair of ABA Lawyer as Problem Solver Committee (Recipient of the Award in 2004)
  • Past Chair of the ACR Taskforce to establish a National Peacemaker Museum.
  • Recognized theorist and supporter of the movement to form a US Department of Conflict Resolution and Prevention
  • In 2006, the Southern California Mediation Association established the SCMA/Forrest S. Mosten Mediation Library Fund to set up citizen information centers on conflict resolution institutions throughout Southern California.
  • In 2007, the University of California at Riverside established the Forrest S. Mosten Peacemaking and Conflict Resolution Program to form an academic Minor Degree in this area of study, an annual Scholar in Residence and Lecture Program, and a student internship program. Mr. Mosten was the inaugural Scholar in Residence, and his lecture was “Peacemaking: From Kindergarten to the Middle East.”


ACR, AFCC, ABA, SCMA, Dispute Resolution Section (Co-Frank Sander Lecturer, and numerous state and organizational conferences).

To hear Woody’s 2011 Keynote at the Association for Conflict Resolution, click here.

2020 SCMA Family Mediation Institute — Building Interdisciplinary Teams: A Blueprint for Success

Keynote Speaker, Forrest “Woody” Mosten

Forrest “Woody” Mosten has been in private mediation practice since 1979 and teaches mediation, Lawyer as Peacemaker, and Family Law Practice as Adjunct Professor at the UCLA School of Law. He trains professionals in mediation from basic to advanced courses and is in constant demand worldwide as a conference keynote speaker and expert witness on mediation.

Woody is a founding member of the Southern California Mediation Association and was named by SCMA as Peacemaker of the Year. He has twice served as keynote speaker at the SCMA Annual Conference and was the recipient of the 2017 SCMA President’s Award. SCMA honored Woody in 2016 by asking him to introduce Senator George Mitchell at the Annual Conference. He has also presented to the San Diego Chapter of SCMA and has been made an Honorary Member of Divorce Solutions of Orange County.

Woody was 2009 ABA Frank Sander Co-Lecturer and awarded Lifetime Career Awards by the Academy of Professional Family Mediators (2019) by the New York State Mediation Association (2014) and was named recipient of the ABA Lawyer as Problem Solver Award (2004), ABA Lifetime Legal Access Award (2004), and the Los Angeles County Bar Louis M. Brown Conict Prevention Award (1996). He is the founding Chair of the Beverly Hills Bar Dispute Resolution Section (1989) and has received two major awards for his work in mediation from that organization. He presented to BHBA and Los Angeles County Family Law Section, and San Diego Bar in 2019.

Woody is the author of six books and numerous articles on mediation and other dispute resolution topics. His books, Mediation Career Guide and Complete Guide to Mediation, 2nd Edition (with Elizabeth Potter Scully) are seminal works in the mediation eld. He has served as Guest Editor of the Family Court Review (AFCC) for four special issues: Training Mediators in the 21st Century, Unbundled Legal Services, Collaborative Law, and Peacemaking for Divorcing Families.

Woody was the 2016 Siben Lecturer at Hofstra Law School and his paper (with Lara Traum) on Interdisciplinary Teams in Family Practice was the lead article of the Family Court Review in 2018.

Honors and Awards

SCMA Forrest “Woody” Mosten Star Award for 
Excellence & Innovation in Family Mediation

Woody was presented with the Inaugural SCMA Star Award created in his honor and will bear his name in future years. This award was presented by Susan Guthrie at the Family Mediation Institute in Orange County on February 29, 2020.

SCMA President's Award

On August 9, 2018, Immediate Past President, Jason Harper, presented Woody with the 2017 Southern California Mediation Association President’s Award for his pioneering work in mediation training and founding the SCMA Educational Foundation in 2007.

University of California, Riverside 2008 Commencement Address

The College of Arts and Humanities invited Mr. Mosten to deliver the Commencement Address to 5,000 graduates, challenging the graduates to adopt a “Peacemaker Pledge.”

Forrest S. Mosten Initiative for Peace Studies and Conflict Resolution

On May 7, 2008, Forrest Mosten delivered the inaugural lecture in this UCR program established in his name, Peacemaking and Conflict Resolution: From Kindergarten to the Middle East.

Lawyer as Problem Solver Award (American Bar Association)

In 2004, Forrest Mosten received one of the most prestigious award of the Dispute Resolution Section of the American Bar Association (click here) In 2007, Mr Mosten was named Co-Chair of the ABA Committee that selects award winners and recommends policy for the ABA Lawyer as Problem Solver Program (click here)

Susan Guthrie Presenting Inaugural SCMA STAR Award to Woody Mosten

Woody Mosten Receives SCMA Star Award with SCMA Leadership, February 2020

Southern California Mediation Association / Forrest S. Mosten Conflict Resolution Library Initiative

In 2006, Mr. Mosten keynoted the SCMA Annual Conference. In his honor, SCMA established the SCMA/Forrest S. Mosten Conflict Resolution Library Initiative to provide educational materials about mediation, negotiation, collaborative law, and peacemaking to Non-Profit Institutions throughout Southern California.

National Peacemaking Museum Taskforce (Association for Conflict Resolution)

In 2007, the Association for Conflict Resolution established a National Peacemaker Museum Taskforce and appointed Mr. Mosten to chair this future oriented public educational project. Click here for more information.

Louis M. Brown and Forrest S. Mosten
International Client Counseling Competition (affiliated with the International Bar Association)

After serving as Chair of the UC Client Counseling Committee (1983-85) Mr. Mosten was appointed Executive Chair of this international law school event that involves over 20 countries and teaches future lawyers about interviewing and counseling clients, preventive planning, and appreciation for options to litigation.

Introduction of Forrest S. Mosten by David Hoffman for ABA Lawyer As Problem Solver Award

By David Hoffman (Former Chair, ABA)

Most people know Forrest by the name “Woody”
and probably more people know him for his accomplishments as a mediator and a mediation trainer, than as a lawyer. Woody has written several books on mediation practice. He gives mediation trainings in Los Angeles, elsewhere in the U.S. and overseas. He has founded a network of mediation centers that stretches across the U.S. If you have ever met him, you can tell in 30 seconds that he has a gift for working well with people—a gift that translates into success as a mediator. He has been serving as a mediator for 30 years—he started doing this work before many of us had even heard of mediation. Read More…

© Forrest S. Mosten

Certified Family Law Specialist
Board of Legal Specialization, State Bar of California