Attorney Jeffrey Krivis teaches at the Straus Institute for Dispute Resolution at Pepperdine University in Malibu, Calif. He is former president of the International Academy of Mediators. He heads First Mediation Corp., an Encino, Calif., consulting firm. He is a member of Alternatives’ editorial board. He wishes to thank Brent Daub for his contributions to this article.
In early 2002, I confronted the most difficult challenge of my 21 years of legal practice. It didn’t involve high-level negotiations in a mediation room, or even courtroom theatrics.
It occurred on the stage of the Comedy Store on Sunset Boulevard in West Hollywood, Calif. There I sweated it out during the most stressful final exam of my life, performing a seven-minute standup routine which crowned a semester of comedy classes.
The law profession has a way of compelling its members to schedule marathon, seemingly endless, work routines. So in the interest of achieving balance in my life, I forced myself to sign up for a comedy class and schedule it in between mediation sessions.
As a professional, I found myself getting into a grind just like other lawyers, conducting so many mediations that cases started to become cookie-cutter affairs. I figured that a diversion completely outside the realm of what I do for a living might instill some freshness in my professional routine.