A Lifelong Pursuit of Peace. Member Spotlight: Forrest “Woody” Mosten

Forrest “Woody” Mosten is an experienced lawyer, mediator, and educator based in La Jolla, California. A founding member of MBBI, Woody has devoted his career to advancing mediation and peacemaking both in the United States and globally, championing innovative and collaborative approaches to resolving conflict.


Woody’s journey into mediation and peacemaking stemmed from his disillusionment with the adversarial nature of the legal profession. Despite being drawn to the law out of a desire to uphold justice and protect the rights of all people, he found the combative approach dominating the field to be antithetical to his values. After an early career featuring work with the Oglala Sioux Nation, United Farm Workers, and ACLU civil rights cases, he founded one of the first private legal clinics in the U.S. and served as a lawyer for disadvantaged communities.

Woody’s true calling, however, was as a peacemaker. Disenchanted with courtroom battles, he transitioned into family mediation, becoming one of the earliest practicing mediators in Los Angeles in the 1970s. At a time when mediation was still a fringe concept, viewed with skepticism by the legal establishment, Woody persisted and gradually built his practice by taking on the cases that other lawyers didn’t want to handle through court battles.

Championing Mediation

This formed the foundation of his life’s work to expand legal access and mediation as an alternative to adversarial processes. Over the decades, as the field has gained traction, Woody has championed mediation at a grassroots level, handling cases involving schools, religious groups, community boards and more. Simultaneously, he has worked to professionalize and spread mediation practices globally through his teaching, mentorship, writing, and active involvement in MBBI.

Woody co-founded the Mosten Guthrie Mediation Academy, which provides online basic and advanced mediation training courses to an international clientele. He also serves a faculty member at the UCLA School of Law, teaching courses on “Mediation and the Lawyer as Peacemaker”, in addition to having previously taught at several other universities. His passion lies in teaching and mentoring the next generation. Woody facilitates small year-long case consultation groups for new mediators, helping to translate skills into successful practice through peer mentoring.

Another of Woody’s notable contributions is his work in the collaborative law movement. Developed as an offshoot of mediation principles, the collaborative law approach is interdisciplinary model where lawyers, financial professionals, and mental health specialists work as a team to resolve disputes outside of the courtroom. Woody advocated for the inclusion of neutral mediators to help parties overcome adversarial stances. “When you’re an aligned professional, you have an obligation to your client,” he explains. But “bringing in a mediator creates a neutral space to develop solutions that transcend individual interests,” leading to more mutually satisfactory outcomes.

A Life’s Work

Woody remains tireless in pursuing his life’s work. “People ask why I still do this rather than retire and play golf all day,” he muses. “Peacemaking is my life’s work. I want to help for as long as I’m able. And in this field, your experience is respected past retirement age and beyond.”

Looking ahead, Woody hopes to continue mediating, writing, and training the next generation in mediation and collaborative methods – driven by a profound belief in their transformative potential. His goal is to seed the idea that having “peacemaking advisors” is as essential to communities, organizations, and nations as having legal counsel, fostering collaborative approaches when navigating even the most intractable conflicts. Citing Nelson Mandela and George Mitchell among his heroes, Woody similarly hopes to uplift his field through innovation, persistence and principled action.

Article by Natalie Dewar, MBBI Writer