Moving into Mindfulness

Mediation expert shares tips for successful lawyering

As Director of Loyola University Chicago School of Law’s Dispute Resolution Program, Teresa Frisbie coordinates all dispute resolution courses and activities, teaches mediation advocacy, and coaches the international mediation team. Frisbie trains law students, business professionals, lawyers, judges, realtors, physicians and nurses in mediation, mediation advocacy, negotiation, conflict management and/or international arbitration in the United States and internationally. She was named a Top Ten Illinois Women ADR Neutral as well as a Leading Lawyer in Alternative Dispute Resolution in the categories of international, employment, and commercial litigation.

How did you first become involved in alternative dispute resolution?

I was practicing as a litigator and learned about international commercial arbitration. I took the courses and exams and became a Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Arbitrators. The best thing about it may have been that it led me to mediation training. While I was able to apply my international arbitration knowledge not long after in a case, it was mediation and principled negotiation that were clearly useful to everything in my practice. I was drawn to mediation because our current litigation system is so expensive for clients and the focus is on procedural rules and discovery, while mediation creates an opportunity to sit down with people, talk about what really matters to them, and resolve a dispute quickly.

What do you like best about teaching at Loyola?
The people. We have wonderful students and colleagues. I never set out to have a career in teaching, but it turns out I love to teach and coach. I also love to learn and the best way to learn something is to teach it.

Connect with Teresa on twitter: @TeresaFrisbie


courses in ADR offered


recovered in EEOC claimants at mediations


years of Willem C. Vis International Commerical Arbitration Moot program excellence

How can alternative dispute resolution practices complement the skill set of a litigator or transactional attorney?

You can have all the legal knowledge in the world and be a beautiful writer and orator, but at some point you have to sit across the table, either to settle the case or close the deal, from someone who views things differently and may even be angry. It doesn’t matter how brilliant your argument is if the decision maker on the other side is not able to consider what you are trying to communicate. Having great negotiation skills (which includes excellent listening skills and comfort with difficult conversations) means you can regulate your own emotions, craft creative solutions based on party interests, and achieve client goals.

What advice do you have for students looking to become involved in alternative dispute resolution activities at the School of Law and in the Chicago legal community?

Take a skills course to learn the basics, try out for a competition team, or learn to help real people in mediation through a practicum course. Chicago has a wonderful ADR community, including restorative justice programs which use processes like peace circles. We also have community building circles in the law school.

Outside of traditional lawyering skills, what specific skills do you recommend that law students develop to prepare them for a legal career?

There is pretty wide consensus that the non-traditional skills matter the most for a successful and happy career. Law students need people skills, time management skills, conflict resolution skills, and self-regulation skills. The good news is that these things can be learned.

You have studied mindfulness in the legal profession. How is the profession’s approach to these topics evolving?

Law careers are demanding and our statistics on anxiety, depression and substance abuse are dismal. The good news is that lawyers are addressing this with the latest science, including taking up mindfulness meditation, and getting serious about taking care of their brains with sleep, exercise and good nutrition. We already have a student mindfulness group starting up here in the law school and the Chicago Bar Association has a Mindfulness Committee.

What mindfulness techniques do you practice in your everyday life?

I meditate, often with apps like Calm, Headspace and 10% Happier. I do a modified form of yoga loosely based on The Happy Body workout. There are lots of ways to be mindful. Loyola recently hosted the Mindfulness in Law Society’s national conference and lawyers from across the country shared their practices—including walking meditation, listening to music, and being in nature, among others. One room was full of attendees practicing qigong. Mindfulness can also be noticing something new in the familiar. Remember: Don’t judge your mindfulness practice!

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