LOS ANGELES — Judicate West, a
private dispute-resolution company, has added a University of San
Francisco graduate to its list of neutrals.
Ann Kotlarski has
worked for more than 30 years as a business/commercial and employment
attorney and graduated from the University of San Francisco’s
School of Law cum laude in 1985, according to an news release.
got a great education there,” Kotlarski told the Northern
She said they had very practical courses,
“which you didn’t always see everywhere.”
Law was not
Kotlarski's first choice, as she originally went to study history at
“I was a history buff. I was a history
major. I thought I was going to be a history professor,” she said.
“I think I loved history because as a little girl I loved fairy
tales. I just loved stories and getting to the end of the
However, she soon decided to switch careers.
realized that although I was quite intelligent, I was not what I
would call brilliant — at least brilliant enough to be able to
teach at a top university,” she said, laughing.
When some of her
professors suggested law school, she headed back to California to
begin her law studies, she said. After graduating, Kotlarski began
working and said that over the last few years she had been drawn to
negotiating with the other side to settle cases out of court.
fact, what I found in the last five or six years of my career is
increasingly I was settling the vast majority of my cases — about
60 percent or more without a mediator,” Kotlarski said.
she had found the majority of cases did not end up going to trial in
either state or federal court.
“Summary judgment can be very,
very difficult for employers to get in employment matters,”
Kotlarski said. “So, if you are not willing to go to trial and,
usually it is not just one side but both sides, you need to look at
an opportunity for resolution.
“I have spent years talking to
clients and saying, ‘I know that is what you think but this is what
the plaintiff has got going on and you can’t ignore that. I think
that has served me well in the mediation context because I am used to
looking at both sides and weighing the pros and cons on both sides of
Kotlarski said that in her field of employment
discrimination, she tried to be sensitive to the emotion
“These are very sensitive claims both for the people
bringing them and the people accused of the misconduct,” she said.
“It really creates a heightened emotional atmosphere sometimes when
it comes to resolving a case.”
One thing she said she learned
from past mentors mentors was “how important it is to not get
wedded to your own position but be able to understand where the other
side is coming from. That is just something I have done naturally
throughout my career.”
As for the future, Kotlarski said she is
looking toward building a “rigorous” practice.
“I am looking
forward to developing a full-time mediation practice for both
employment and commercial litigation matters and, from time to time,
handling some arbitration matters,” she said.
Judicate West was
founded in 1993.