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Wharton, Aldhizer and Weaver PLC

NewsTitle:  Of Counsel
Other legal specialties: Corporate law, estate planning, business litigation
Birthplace:  Newton, Kan.
Education: University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, bachelor’s degree; Campbell University, law degree; Eastern Mennonite University, master’s degree
Spouse: Julie
Children:  Samuel, 13; Benjamin, 11
Hobbies:   Hiking, fishing, gardening
First job as a lawyer:  Clerk to the Hon. K. Edward Greene, North Carolina Court of Appeals 
Fan of:  University of North Carolina basketball and Eastern Mennonite University basketball
Favorite vacation spot: Yellowstone National Park
Recently read book: “The New Lawyer” by Julie MacFarlane
Career mentors: Mary Howerton, Don Showalter, Larry Hoover

How did you become involved in alternative dispute resolution?
“During the first 15 years of practice, I primarily handled litigation matters in a large Charlotte firm and also mediated a number of cases.  I began to see the toll that litigation took on clients, and in 2005 I learned about the developing area of collaborative practice, where the parties expressly retain lawyers to assist them in reaching agreements outside of court.  Later that year, my wife and I decided to move to Harrisonburg to raise our sons.  Since 2006, I have been extensively involved in using the collaborative practice model to assist clients going through divorce as well as using it in business disputes from time-to- time.  In addition, I now train lawyers and other professionals in the collaborative practice model and negotiations.”       

What advantages does ADR offer over settling a dispute in court?
“It gives the parties far more control over the outcome and is generally more cost-effective.  There can be much uncertainty in litigation, and although I still enjoy the courtroom, I think it usually should be the choice of last resort.  Our ethics rules are pretty clear that we are to fully advise clients of alternatives to litigation and that in assisting them, we are to call not only upon our legal knowledge but help them consider other factors that are important to them. Mediation and collaborative practice allow for creating options for resolution that go well beyond what a court may be able to do in a given legal case.  I think that helping clients identify, understand and obtain their underlying long-term interests and goals goes to the core of what it means to be an effective lawyer.”

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