Forrest (Woody) Mosten

Mediator and Collaborative Attorney

Certified Family Law Specialist

Articles featuring Forrest S. Mosten

Interview with Woody 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.

Listen to an interview with Woody on the Doug Noll ShowPart 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.

Article Excerpts

The following article excerpts by Forrest S. Mosten are of interest to lawyers, therapists, mediators and other professionals. A full list of Mr. Mosten's publications is available upon request.

“The family lawyers of the 21st Century must be able to wear different hats and offer services ranging from full-service lawyer to consulting lawyer to document reviewer to negotiation coach. Mediation, above all, is about client control. Unless lawyers offer clients choices in terms of their representation, family lawyers will soon find more and more people deciding to exercise the ultimate in control: not hiring a lawyer at all.”

“The Lawyer's Role During Agreement Making”
American Journal of Family Law, Spring 1997

“The Confidential Mini-Evaluation (CME) can be utilized in place of or in addition to the traditional custody evaluation and give parents and children the benefits of the evaluation without the cost, acrimony, time or possible risks to the family of the traditional evaluation.”

“Confidential Mini-Evaluation”
Family and Conciliation Court Review, 1992

“The notion of a lawyer and therapist working together to co-mediate divorce agreements has created much excitement in professional circles - particularly among therapists. As a practicing lawyer-therapist team, we share this enthusiasm and wholeheartedly support the concept of co-mediation in appropriate situations.”

“The Role of the Therapist in the Co-Mediation of Divorce:
An Exploration by a Lawyer-Mediator Team”
with Dr. Barbara Biggs, Journal of Divorce, Winter 1985/86

“As mediation matures into an institutionalized profession, demand is increasing for customized training and supervision. ... Individual supervision offers several benefits. By “buying“ the supervisor's time and focus, the trainee is more assured of receiving ongoing reflective customized input on professional strengths and weaknesses.”

“Individual Supervision and Mediation Self-Survey”
Family Mediation Training, 1997

“A mediator who fails to test and challenge the parties and their lawyers may be well-liked by the parties but may not necessarily guide them to a concrete settlement.”

“Muscle Mediation”
The San Francisco Recorder,
July 31, 1996

“Clients want more power over their own lives and to be full and active participants in solving their own problems. In short, they want to be in control and want their lawyers to be resources in helping clients translate that control into effective and satisfying results.”

“Emerging Roles of the Family Lawyer”
Family and Conciliation Courts Review April 1995

“Preventive mediation permits both partners and their children to participate in a more relaxed, empowering atmosphere, and allows them to address issues that go beyond a typical pre-marital agreement.”

“Preventive Mediation in Blended Families”
ABA Dispute Resolution Magazine, 1996

“The legal wellness check-up is an unbundled service product that can be used by family lawyers to improve the legal health of clients at every stage of representation.”

“Preventing Future Conflicts Through Legal Wellness Check-Ups”
Preventive Law Reporter, Fall 1996

“Millions of Americans who feel the symptoms of legal disease either live with their problem or resolve it in some manner without ever entering a lawyer's office.”

“Unbundling Legal Services”
Oregon State Bar Bulletin, January 1997

Selected Articles

For a complete list of Mr. Mosten’s publications, click here. Download PDF

© Forrest S. Mosten

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