Labor and Employment Law

Ca. Labor & Emp't Rev. September 2019, Volume 33, No. 5

Fresh Perspectives: Getting Involved in Mediations as an Early Practitioner

By Alex Stathopoulos

Alex Stathopoulos, a senior associate at Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe LLP, represents employers in complex wage and hour class actions and single plaintiff cases, and provides creative and practical counseling on a wide range of employment issues including new and developing areas of the law. She is the California Young Lawyers Association Liaison to the California Lawyers Association Labor and Employment Law Section. She can be reached at

Mediations have always sparked my interest. In my first years of practice, I mostly sat them out, anxiously waiting back at the office to hear whether it was "pencils down" or if we were moving forward with more discovery, a big motion, or even trial. Mediations seemed exciting and intense—sometimes I would get an urgent email to hunt down a piece of evidence that the senior attorneys needed to keep the settlement discussions going. And when those who attended came back to the office, they were usually animated about the drama and developments that unfolded over the course of the day.

Not being one to wait on the sidelines, I started asking to attend mediations in my cases, or at least shadow for part of the day. Before long, I got the green light to tag along. With my foot in the door, I set out to prove that I could add value during the process so that I would be invited back in future cases and be given more responsibility next time. Through some trial and error, I figured out how I could be a valuable team member at mediation, even when I was the most junior attorney in the room. Now, seven years later, I’m usually there whenever there is a mediation in one of my cases. And sometimes, I’m the one leading the process on our side.

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