Leah is a CDFA and an MAFF. Her website is https://www.greatlakesdfs.com
The first installment of our blog’s member spotlight series features Leah Hadley.
Located in Cleveland (but available by Zoom video conference), Leah works on domestic relations cases and specializes in financial analysis.
Financial issues in divorces are difficult, and and it is easier to negotiate knowing that the other side is fully disclosing assets. Also, financial expertise helps each side understand the long-term consequences of particular divisions of assets and debts.
Leah was good enough to answer our questions:
Where do you practice mediation, and what kinds of cases do you mediate?
I practice in the Cleveland-area as well as virtually via Zoom video conferencing. My main office is in Middleburg Hts and I use office space in Beachwood and Westlake.
I primarily mediate domestic relations cases. With CDFA (Certified Divorce Financial Analyst) and MAFF (Master Analyst in Financial Forensics) designations, the majority of my cases have some level of financial complexity.
From your experience practicing mediation, why do you believe that the mediation process is an effective process for resolving disputes?
Mediation gives everyone a voice in the negotiation process, allowing parties to come up with their own solution that will work best for them. It also gives them much greater control over the outcome than if they use the court to determine their settlement.
What is your general philosophy or approach to mediation?
I begin each mediation by creating a clear framework for us to work within, laying out the process as well as ground rules. I work with the parties to identify the topics that need to be discussed and teach them communication strategies to make the most of their mediation sessions. I utilize my financial background by demonstrating the impact of proposals that are under consideration with the help of financial modeling software. I find the use of charts and graphs to be particularly helpful for those parties with limited financial knowledge, providing a visual illustration of various outcomes.
What characteristics do you have that come in handy during mediations?
One of the most important characteristics of a good mediator is that they are a good listener. Active listening has always come naturally to me and I model it for my clients. It is so important for everyone involved in a mediation to feel heard
My background is in financial analysis so many of the mediations that I facilitate involve some level of financial complexity. Having a strong financial background helps me know what questions to ask to help parties consider a variety of solutions.
What advice would you give to disputants looking for a mediator?
Look for an experienced mediator who has demonstrated a commitment to the practice of mediation. Ask them about their experience mediating cases like yours. Most importantly, find someone who you feel comfortable with, someone who you think will help you to stay calm and clear-headed as you negotiate your settlement.
What advice would you give to new mediators?
I would recommend that new mediators connect with more experienced mediators in either a practice group or informally. When I have a tough case, I find tremendous value in being able to discuss how to approach certain issues with my colleagues.