Team of Rivals/Martin Rosenfeld, JD

Posted on July 14, 2016


The pundits are having a field day predicting who may be the vice presidential pick for the two major parties. Should s/he be a perfect match for the nominee’s ticket or should they be selected as someone who comes from a different philosophy and constituency? The latter school of thought has been a popular one ever since the book of “Team of Rivals” was written by Doris Kearns Goodwin about the Lincoln cabinet during the Civil War period. Some even refer to the thought by President Lyndon Johnson that it is better to have rivals “inside the tent, spitting outwards rather than outside the tent, spitting inwards.”

The newer school of thought may or may not be wise political advice, but it makes sense in all negotiations. One can look at someone with opposing interests as an enemy. However, in mediations such as divorce mediation, this characterization may well be false. Co-parents getting divorced do not have differing interests in wanting to see their children spared from emotional harm resulting from the divorce. The parties likewise do not have anything to gain from a protracted and costly divorce process. They have nothing to gain from a divorce which divides family members, friends, etc.

Not everyone who has different interests from you is a foe. In addition, there are often shared interests that parties in divorces, commercial disputes, etc. surely possess. The concept of rivals being on the same team is not a far-fetched paradigm. It may well define the dispute that had led to your need to mediate or arbitrate your dispute. Think carefully before deciding whether you want your opposite number inside or outside the tent of dispute resolution.

Mediate don’t litigate.

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