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Time as Langdon Fellow helped propel John Minter, ’03, to career in mediation

February 24, 2021 | Alumni

By: James Grega, Jr.

In 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic brought much of the world to a standstill. The virus has affected all areas of life, and law is no exception.

However, one area of the law that has seen a surge that could continue is mediation. Due to social distancing efforts and less in-person interaction, virtual mediation has stepped to the forefront of law, as has Moritz alum John Minter.

“It is more mainstream now than it has ever been and is a part of most core processes,” said Minter, who currently works for United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit in Cincinnati. “Participating in mediation classes while at Ohio State and learning how to think like a mediator will help you advocate for you client in mediation.”

Also referred to as Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR), Moritz boasts one of the top mediation programs in the country. In 2019, US News named Moritz the No. 1 school for ADR in the nation. Mediation is often used as an alternative to litigation and features more compromise and negotiation.

Following his graduation from Ohio Northern University in 2000, Minter immediately enrolled at the Moritz College of Law. He earned his JD in 2003 and began his law career at Collins and Lowther in Marion, Ohio the following year.

However, after just three years working as an advocate attorney, Minter was back at Moritz, hired as the first ever Langdon Fellow for Dispute Resolution.

“My main responsibility was working with the students who went to mediate at small-claims courts,” Minter said of his work as the Langdon Fellow. “I also assisted the professors during the mediation course class sessions and worked with students pursuing the certificate in dispute resolution.”

With a two-year obligation, Minter worked with a multitude of Moritz professors including Sarah Cole, Josh Stulberg, and Ellen Deason assisting them with their classes, and working with their students. He also continued to educate himself on the finer details of mediation and found that he greatly enjoyed the work.

“I really like the practical component of it. I really enjoyed sitting in the mediations with the students and talking about mediation, why they did what they did, and what they think they could have done better,” he said. “I was focused on mediation and not just how to do it, but why you do certain things. Learning about negotiations and how people negotiate. I was paid to focus on those things, so I gained a lot of knowledge during that time. I’m a better mediator because of that opportunity.”

Following his time as the Langdon Fellow, Minter returned to Marion, Ohio this time to work in the county prosecutor’s office. However, he missed the work he was doing in the area of mediation and found himself doing extra work on the side.

“After the fellowship was over, I went back to practicing law as an advocate attorney. I did that for four years before the fellowship and then four years after. I mediated on the side just for fun,” he said. “I decided I didn’t want to be an advocate attorney, and I wanted to see if I could find a job mediating full time.”

The first job he found was with the Cuyahoga County Common Pleas Court as a foreclosure mediator. Minter believes it was his time as the first ever Langdon Fellow that led to his hiring.

“When I interview for mediation jobs and the employer sees a nationally respected program like Moritz hired me to work with their students, it shows the employer I must know something about mediation.” he said.

That position kick-started a career in mediation that now spans more than seven years. Minter accepted his position with the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit in Cincinnati in October. There, he works to mediate civil cases in Ohio, Kentucky, Michigan and Tennessee.

Minter said that even if mediation isn’t a lawyer’s area of expertise the skills learned as a mediator can help in any area of the law, especially as an alternative to litigation.

“The skills involved with mediation, and even just learning how to mediate, apply to whether you become a mediation attorney or not,” Minter said. “Those skills can still be applied if you work as an advocate attorney. The main skills involved with mediation are learning how to active listen, approach conversations with a goal of trying to understand what the other person is saying. So, if you can better understand what the other side is arguing, you are going to have a better chance of making a stronger counter argument.”