Board of Directors Member Stephen Gaddis Interviewed by the Washington Mediation Association

July 8th, 2010 4:01 pm

20 Year Club: An Interview with Steven Gaddis by Sarah Bergdahl

Being in the presence of Stephen Gaddis is much like watching a comet dash across the sky. He is a brilliant change agent who has dedicated his professional life to improving the legal system, particularly for families and vulnerable people. Gaddis gets ideas, develops action plans, and follows through. In 1975 he learned about Family Mediation and co-founded Northwest Mediation Service, the first family law mediation service in the area. He is proud of his contribution toward creating a mandatory mediation program for custody and visitation disputes, as well as his role in setting up the first CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocate) program in the country. In the early 1980’s he wrote the first Parenting Plan for the courts, a one-page document.
Gaddis’s legal career was studded with recognition for his contributions. In 1986 the WA State Bar Association designated him Family Law Judge of the Year, and in 2001 the King County Bar Association named him a “Quiet Hero.” He has chaired an impressive list of committees and task forces, contributed to the development and rewriting of laws, and presented at over 250 continuing education courses. Over the course of his career, he has come to see himself as a healer more than the warrior he was taught to be in law school.
Through his current, busy mediation practice, (, Gaddis works to give clients a voice,
offer them a participative role in the resolution of their own conflict, and support the well being of the whole family as they move through what he hopes can be a transformative experience. He is passionate about using interest-based criteria for problem solving rather than applying legal precedents from prior cases with different parties, counsel, and facts.
Gaddis cites his improved listening skills as fundamental to his practice of mediation. In the future, Gaddis envisions a directory where attorneys and parties can easily review a mediator’s background, education, experience, and mediating style. He’d like to see greater awareness about the availability of mediation and hopes our evolving field will not limit ourselves unnecessarily by uniform certification standards. As a married father of five, Stephen Gaddis believes there is no substitute for life experiences. He values self-reflection and tries to be mindful of the values that influence his mediation style. WMA is proud to have Stephen Gaddis as a member.