Bridge of Spies: A Universal Lesson in Negotiation
Glienicke Bridge

Bridge of Spies: A Universal Lesson in Negotiation

3 years ago 0 3948

Let’s put aside historical accuracy. Any of the historical “revisions” in Stephen Spielberg’s film, Bridge of Spies, do not affect the brilliant but simple art of negotiation masterminded by the main character of the film and star of the negotiation. As the film opens, lawyer James B. Donovan (Tom Hanks) works as a partner in his own New York law firm. Before this, Donovan earned an impressive reputation as general counsel in government war offices instituted for purposes of World War II. From there, he participated in the famous Nuremberg trials. In fairness, then, understand that Donovan was not your worker-bee tax attorney plucked from a mound of IRS client files. The US government turns to Donovan to negotiate a trade between us and the USSR–one of our spies for one of theirs. Rudolf Abel was a convicted KGB- -Soviet Committee for State Security–spy in US custody. Gary Frances Powers was a pilot flying an American U-2 spy plane

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We Mediate Without Even Knowing It

4 years ago 0 1179

  Yes, mediation is a profession. We need mediation. And we need trained mediators. Even so, the practice has seeped deeply into the culture over the past few decades. almost unexpectedly practically unknowingly to most of us. Mediation as we know it today got its start slightly more than half a century ago in the 1950’s at the onset of the cold war and with the threat of a global nuclear holocaust. Countries had to do something other than demonstrate their military might. They either backed away in nationalistic isolation or attempted to open “talks” among leaders. The art of modern diplomacy was born. Hand-in-hand came the art of negotiation. The founders of this country were influenced by “reason.” The Age of Enlightenment, heralded three centuries ago, espoused reasoning and tolerance in reaction to the abuses of monarchies and churches. Blind faith was replaced by science and logic. We were “enlightened.” And therefore advanced human beings.

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Man Makes Money Matters a Mystery to Wife–My Take on Dear Abby

4 years ago 0 1065

The comments in red and deleted text are my way of encouraging IN THE DARK IN NEW JERSEY, who actually wrote to Dear Abby in May, to empower herself to be more assertive in addressing the state of her marital assets and plan for her future. What are your thoughts about marital money matters?  If you are like IN THE DARK IN NEW JERSEY consider revising your story. DEAR ABBY, My husband keeps all our financial information, be it bank accounts, statements, savings, investments, etc., away from me.  He has been unemployed for more than three years and keeps telling me we need to economize, which I do. When I tell him we must review our finances together ask him to let me know what our finances are, he tells me, we’re “running out of money.” He keeps everything a secret, and when I am kind enough and patient enough to offer 

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Mindful Lawyering — Does Such a Thing Exist?

4 years ago 0 1492

Last week I attended a mindful lawyering retreat along with 70 other interested attorneys and judges. I  pause here for a moment to allow you to snicker at the thought. . . . Any non-lawyer I told this to did just that, and then good-naturedly listened. But it’s true. We spent 3 ½ days in silence with the exception of several break-outs sessions that didn’t last very long. We were discouraged from opening our emails, answering our phones, or reading pleasure books we may have brought along. (I brought two.) The Garrison Institute, a former Franciscan monastery built on the banks of the Hudson River in upstate New York hosted us. The UC Berkeley School of Law Initiative for Mindfulness in the Law, Columbia Law School, and the Community Legal Resource Network at CUNY School of Law sponsored us I was there for the same reason most of us were:

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Estate Planning and Cloud Files: When Going Paperless Means Going Without Knowing

5 years ago 0 1186

How many times in a given day are we asked to ‘go paperless’ for our most important transactions, with our bank and financial institution monthly or quarterly statement.  Several months ago I opened a probate estate account for a client family. When the first month’s bank statements arrived, there was a “Paper Statement Fee” of $3.00 added to the debit column.  Another client of mine who is not computer savvy requested a year’s copy of her guardian’s account bank statements and canceled checks for which she was charged $50.00. Most people today, young and old, handle their finances online. We access our broker and bank accounts online. We keep track of our 401Ks and employment retirement accounts online. Social Security has stopped sending out work history statements. We schedule payment for our credit card and utility bills online.  We file tax returns online. Virtual financing and cloud storage has brought

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A Separation

A Separation: A Not So Foreign Film

5 years ago 0 1212

This Iranian drama is the story of a middle class, urban couple that is in the process of separating. The wife, Simin, has had enough. It appears to be that her widowed father-in-law whose dementia and total dependence on Simin and his son, Nadér, pushes her out the door. This couple’s 14-year-old quiet, if not timid, daughter, Termeh, is loved by both and conflicted by both. Everyone is torn. Simin wants more for herself and their daughter. She had planned for her family to leave the country. Nadér finds that, regardless, he won’t go at the cost of abandoning his father. We watch Simin and Nadér arguing over this with Nadér the more mild mannered. In many ways, this brilliant director and screenwriter, Asghar Farhadi, portrays a couple familiar to most of us. We watch this couple argue. My Western self was sure that if Simin kept it up, she

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Weighing College

College is Not a Waste of Time and Money

5 years ago 0 1164

No, Dr. Reich, college is not a waste of time and money. At least it was not. And it shouldn’t be today. It’s funny that I said this same thing some four and a half decades ago about high school. My high school taught me Latin, English grammar and writing. It taught how to be dutiful to the faith into which I was born. It talked at me. Mostly, it wanted me to stay parochial, and I wouldn’t, for two reasons. The early ‘60s changin’ times invaded even my high school. Pope John XXIII opened Vatican II. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. headed up the Southern Cristian Leadership Conference. The Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee was founded at Shaw University. Betty Friedan published The Second Sex launching the second phase of the Women’s Right Movement. Much more of the same transpired. Secondly, my Italian immigrant father who ran his own plumbing

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Train Travel

Destination: Adulthood

5 years ago 0 1178

I was traveling on a train in another country when it turned out that a young couple from Arizona sat next to me. We exchanged greetings and sort of established ourselves with each other. They both work for Whole Foods, Inc. They liked what most would consider to be exotic travel. They plan to retire in an affordable, foreign country. And they were obviously not married. This lovely woman, Christina, sounded close to her mother and her stepfather, Dave. He is like her father, she offered. But he’s not you’re father, I suggested. She struggled with this a bit and said, “I call him Dave. I’ve always just called him Dave. But he’s been good for us–he’s a parent.” Christina offered something even more personal: At the age of six she testified in court during her parents’ divorce privately in the judge’s chambers. She told the judge which parent she

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AFCC Conference

Ohio AFCC Inaugural Event: Breaking the Cycle of Family Violence

5 years ago 0 1137

I attended the launch of the Ohio Chapter of the Association of Family and Conciliation Courts (AFCC) on April 24, 2014. AFCC describes itself as “the premier interdisciplinary and international association of professionals dedicated to the resolution of family conflict.” It advocates respect and the empowerment of families so they decide their own futures without conflict. AFCC strives for developing peaceful means out of extremely difficult and sometimes dangerous situations, but not just for parents and their children. For the system as well. Arnold Shienvold, one of the speakers, is a psychologist who has devoted his career to pioneering and promoting family and system wellness. Dr. Schienvold offered several ways to understand the dynamics of conflict in families. It’s certain there are more, but here are a few. There is “coercive control” where the victim’s liberty, freedom and self worth are entirely taken away through overt acts of violence or threats

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Relationships Are Not “Broken”

6 years ago 2 1045

Changing the Paradigm of “Broken” Relationships I try to stay away from calling relationships that at one time were intimate or relationships that produced children as “broken.” We need to change the paradigm. Those relationships are no longer what they were, but they didn’t break, per se. They ended as intimate relationships. The people in them changed or were mistaken with what they had. They ended at intimate relationships. Childless couples still take with them a history of life together. Couples will children also have a history between them and always remain parents of their children. This doesn’t mean there isn’t hurt, rejection, anger and unfairness. It means, if we try to change our vocabulary and name it something else, the way in which we think about and handle our relationships will shift, too. Hopefully.