ivian Berger is the Nash Professor of Law Emerita at Columbia University School of Law. A seasoned ADR (alternative dispute resolution) practitioner, she has conducted hundreds of mediations since the mid-1990s and been designated an Advanced Practitioner in employment mediation – her specialty – by the Association for Conflict Resolution. She has also done arbitrations and independent workplace investigations and served as a special master in federal court.
Vivian brings substantial and diverse professional experience to her current work. Her many years of public speaking, in forums ranging from the classroom to radio and television, have honed her communication skills. Her numerous publications in newspapers, magazines and academic journals have made her an effective writer as well.
With regard to workplace-related mediation, Vivian’s background has prepared her to relate to the concerns of both employers and employees. For example, as Vice Dean of her law school for four and a half years, she oversaw the Human Resources area; she also grew up in a family business. As one who began her career at the New York State Division of Human Rights and who served for twenty years as a general counsel for the ACLU, she is, in addition, sensitive to the interests of workers. Moreover, her years as a prosecutor and defense attorney have given her experience that, together with her substantive knowledge of employment law, enhances her ability to handle employment investigations.
Perhaps most important, Vivian possesses the personal qualities required of a good mediator. She listens to, and empathizes with, her clients, and is wholly impartial. She prepares for mediation thoroughly and works patiently, as long as necessary, to help the parties arrive at successful resolutions. A lawyer for over forty years and a law professor emerita, she respects, and is respected by, the attorneys with whom she works. Moreover, while basically facilitative in her approach, in the privacy of caucus she does not hesitate to “reality-test” the parties — believing their autonomy is maximized by careful consideration of their options.
Finally, Vivian loves her work, and finds it a continual source of intellectual excitement, practical stimulation, and human interest.