Responsible Mediation Practices. Member Spotlight: Ted Gavin

Ted Gavin is the Managing Director and Founding Partner of Gavin/Solomonese LLC, a lead firm that specializes in corporate recovery and restructuring. He is a nationally certified professional mediator and Certified Turnaround Professional. He received his Master’s degrees in Dispute Resolution and Legal Studies from Pepperdine Law, his Bachelor of Science degree in Business and Information Systems from University of Phoenix, and pursued studies in Music Theory & Music Education from University of The Arts in Pennsylvania. In his free time, he is a rhythm guitarist and occasional bassist for the Indubitable Equivalents, the house band of the American Bankruptcy Institute.

The MBBI Network

Ted has been a member of MBBI for over a year and was first introduced to the organization via his colleague at Pepperdine Law, Shelley Allen, a fellow MBBI member. Soon afterwards, he would take classes taught by Ken Cloke, co-founder and leader of MBBI, and Joan Goldsmith, a founding member of MBBI. “After those experiences, I knew I’d absolutely made the right decision in joining MBBI.” He’s found tremendous value in having the opportunity to engage with a network of experienced mediators, to listen and learn from them. 

Law and Dispute Resolution

Ted often works with businesses in distress, which frequently involves commercial litigation. “I can jokingly say for the last fifteen years, I’ve sued people for a living!” As he continued through his career, he began noticing the ways in which other professionals in his field mediate; some did exceptionally well and others did exceptionally poorly. He decided that he should incorporate mediation into the variety of services his firm offers and thus, after completing his term as the President of the American Bankruptcy Institute, he took the opportunity to pursue an education in law and dispute resolution. To this day, the knowledge he gained from these programs continue to have direct application to his work, particularly when creating productive conflict systems within a company in distress to pave the way for a better functioning organization once it returns to normal.

His Master’s program also allowed him the opportunity to become more knowledgeable in multicultural approaches to mediation, as well as how cross-cultural conflict can bring unique challenges to the process. Though Ted is often busy with restructuring companies through his successful firm, he is intentional about engaging with his local, diverse community through Martha’s Vineyard Mediation Program. He mediates and provides financial coaching to a region that has a very robust Brazilian and Portuguese community. He recognizes that his role as a mediator is to bridge the gap between conflict parties when they are separated by their interpretation of a common language or common facts. “Otherwise, the parties won’t really be communicating with each other. They’ll simply be communicating at each other.” Facilitating this conversation requires that cultural conflicts often need to sorted out before one can tackle the monetary or performance-based conflicts. 

On Privilege 

His intentions of pursuing an education at Pepperdine Law expand far beyond professional development. “One of the reasons why I went to law school was not just to become a mediator, but also because I recognized that as a middle-aged, cis-gendered, straight white guy with an above-average income, I have a responsibility.” This responsibility, he says, is to be a better voice at the table for people who aren’t within those circles of privilege. If Ted could do anything differently in his career, he said he would have considered going to law school twenty years sooner to accomplish more as an advocate and be a voice for people outside of those circles for longer. 

The Future of Conflict Resolution

Although the pandemic has provided certain challenges to some working professionals who aren’t as technologically-savvy, Ted has enjoyed operating virtually with ease. “I’m an introvert, so I’ve been training for this moment my entire life,” he jokes. Advancements in technology and programs such as Zoom, he says, should actually be leveraged to solve the final mile problem in bringing conflict resolution to more remote places. It would become a tool to improve access to justice and may provide greater opportunities for peacemaking discussions between parties who otherwise would simply not be in the same room. Ted encourages mediators, particularly those who aren’t as comfortable with using technology and programs like Zoom, to become more comfortable with these tools not only as an option, but even as a first choice, to make mediation more available to people. He recognizes that the daunting challenge is to also facilitate access to the internet and more advanced technology in remote regions, but once this is accomplished, it would allow for conflict resolution strategies to reach more people who urgently need the assistance of a peacemaker. 

Article by Chloe Pan, MBBI Writer