About Michael Marks
After twenty-five years of work as a litigator, labor negotiator and general counsel for a variety of clients, Michael Marks stopped accepting law clients so that he could meet the demands of his full-time ADR practice. “The mediation practice exploded in 2007. My calendar is full with mediations, arbitrations and negotiations--and I love it. There is nothing more challenging or satisfying than mediating a difficult dispute to settlement.”
Given the focus of his practice, Marks decided to look for a partner to work with him in a firm that would focus exclusively on ADR. “I am thrilled that Tad Powers, Adam Powers and I are working together. I have long admired Tad's work and passion for alternative dispute resolution. We challenge each other to improve our skills and meet the growing demands of New England lawyers and others for ADR services.”
Michael says that his experience advising and advocating for clients in complicated disputes has helped prepare him for his mediation work. “I have been lucky enough in my legal career to do a little of everything and a lot that was very complex. Depending on the case in which they first met me, some Vermont lawyers thought of me as someone who litigates commercial matters. Others recall construction cases. Some remember general civil and liability claims, or employment, or public utility, or environmental litigation. Many know that I negotiate collective bargaining agreements. Now my colleagues call me to mediate in all areas of civil and environmental litigation. I can quickly understand the cases that I now mediate, in part because I have handled similar cases in my career.”
Is that experience as a litigator and labor negotiator enough to be a good mediator? “It’s a good start, but not nearly enough. Mediation requires different skills than litigation or even other forms of negotiation. So I have studied mediation at the Harvard Law School Program on Negotiation, the Center for Dispute Resolution (whose instructors also teach at the Harvard Program), the Straus Institute of Pepperdine Law School and other programs. And mediation experience helps. Even though I have mediated over one thousand cases, and advocated for clients in many other mediations, I learn something every time I mediate a case. My collaboration with Tad and Adam has helped me to grow as a mediator.”
Michael describes his approach to mediation. “I can summarize it in three words: preparation, patience and persistence. First, I prepare. I would rather know too much than too little before I arrive at the mediation. Second, I am patient. I need to work the process so that I understand not just the parties’ positions, but also their needs. I have to work with parties and their lawyers to match those needs to settlement options. Third, and most important, I am persistent. That does not mean grabbing people by the collar and threatening them until they settle. Understanding the risks of litigation is an important part of the mediation process, but you don’t have to threaten people to help them understand those risks. Persistence means that I will work through every possibility for settlement, even when the obstacles seem insurmountable. The hardest cases to settle are the ones where people get the most value when they do settle. Experience teaches that we can settle even the hardest cases.”
Michael's work has been recognized by his peers. He holds an Av rating from Martindale-Hubbell, is listed in New England Super Lawyers (2009,2013 and 2014 ed.) for Alternative Dispute Resolution, and was also recognized in Best Lawyers in America (2009 through 2015 ed.) for Arbitration, Construction Law and Mediation.
Michael's work has been recognized by his peers. He holds an Av rating from Martindale-Hubbell, is listed in New England Super Lawyers (2009,2013 and 2014 ed.) for Alternative Dispute Resolution, and was also recognized in Best Lawyers in America (2009 through 2015 ed.) for Arbitration, Construction Law and Mediation.Best Lawyers in America also named Michael its 2014 Lawyer of the Year in the Arbitration category for Burlington. In 2014, Michael was named to the National Academy of Distinguished Neutrals in recognition for excellence in the field of ADR.