Honolulu labor lawyer Michael F. Nauyokas was recently inducted as a fellow in the American College of Civil Trial Mediators.

Lawyer’s job is selling
a compromise

Michael F. Nauyokas

New Position: Named a fellow of the American College of Civil Trial Mediators

What is the American College of Civil Trial Mediators?

It's a group of only 92 mediators throughout the United States and the requirements are you have to have significant expertise and substantial experience and a high settlement rate as a mediator. So they pick the best of the best, and then they check you out. I know, before I got in, people called me and said they were investigating me.

Once you're in, what does it mean?

It's a designation that means they've certified you as one of the most experienced mediators in the United States.

How do they find you?

I think we sent something in, but it was some time ago, and we had given up. They spend a long time investigating my background, so they talked to a lot of local lawyers who I've mediated cases for.

How does mediation differ from more typical legal proceedings?

Two or more parties have a dispute and one of more files a claim against the other one. The mediator is a third-party neutral who is usually hired by all the parties to the dispute with only one objective.

The goal of the mediator is to end the dispute. It's unique in that No. 1, that the mediator doesn't have any power, the mediator can't issue an order. The mediator has to persuade the parties to end it and they have to agree to end it.

Is it more cost-effective?

Yes. It lowers the attorney's fees, it lowers the costs, it ends the dispute.

It lowers the risk because you have a certain result, because it does it faster and cheaper and it does it confidentially. So it's a no-lose kind of thing. Or win-win.

How popular is it in the legal arena?

It's grown phenomenally in its acceptance and its usage. I'm on the committee for the federal court here and we're setting up a committee to start mediation for federal court cases. Many of the state judges already order mediation.

How do you get people to a middle ground?

To a certain extent, you're like a supersalesman. You're constantly reminding them of the disadvantages of continuing the suit and the advantages of settling. You can be more creative, too, because you're outside the suit, and you're objective.

Was this an area of law you planned to go into?

No, it just kind of happened that way. Actually I'm a labor lawyer. About 10 years ago I left a big law firm as a labor lawyer and people started asking me. I know most of the labor lawyers in town.

Do many lawyers practice mediation?

No, very few, but it's becoming more and more used. As a matter of fact I don't even do it all the time. About 70 percent of my time I work as a neutral.

What do you like about it?

You help people solve problems all day, every day. It's the most rewarding thing I've ever done.

Inside Hawaii Inc. is a conversation with a member of the Hawaii business community who has changed jobs, been elected to a board or been recognized for accomplishments. Send questions and comments to

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