Norm Brand ’75: Leading the Way in Mediation
For more than 35 years, Norm Brand ’75 has been a leading proponent of Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR). He has handled more than 3,700 cases, taught mediation, negotiation, and arbitration to law students and legal professionals, published widely on the subjects, and served in leadership roles for the California Dispute Resolution Council and similar organizations. Recently, he furthered this legacy of leadership with a gift to support research by Professor Donna Shestowsky that will help shape court-sponsored ADR to better suit litigants’ needs.
Brand, who taught English at UC Davis prior to enrolling at King Hall, became interested in law while working for the Council on Legal Education Opportunity to develop a national program to improve the writing skills of minority pre-law students. After earning his law degree, he worked for the State of New York, gaining mediation experience while representing public agencies in labor negotiations. He began teaching Arbitration and other subjects at Albany Law School in 1978 while also building an arbitration practice. In the 1980s, he moved to California to start an arbitration and mediation practice, and was well-positioned as Alternative Dispute Resolution gained momentum in the state.
“During the early ’90s, mediation began to really catch on in California as lawyers began to realize that wanting to mediate was not a sign of weakness,” said Brand. “It was a sign that you had a good idea of the value of your case.”
Since then, Brand has arbitrated high-profile disputes involving NFL football player contracts and mediated wage rates on the Bay Bridge construction project. He has served as the sole arbiter in a $65 million Multiemployer Pension Plan Amendments Act dispute, mediated wrongful termination disputes involving Fortune 500 companies, and played a central role in resolving numerous high-profile public disputes, winning recognition as a Northern California “Super Lawyer” in ADR every year since 2006. He has also been very active in professional organizations and pro bono work, serving on the UCSF Institutional Review Board, which must approve any research involving human subjects.
“As a result, I’ve gotten a much better idea of what real research looks like,” said Brand. “I realized that Donna Shestowsky is one of the few people doing real research in mediation, and I think it’s terrifically important that we have that kind of work to inform our practice. That’s how I came to support Donna’s research.”
Together with his wife, Nancy Spero, Brand made a directed gift to support Professor Shestowsky, who won widespread recognition for her article "The Psychology of Procedural Preference: How Litigants Evaluate Legal Procedures Ex Ante", including the Mangano Dispute Resolution Advancement Award. Published in the Iowa Law Review, the paper represents the first multijurisdictional study exploring how civil litigants assess procedures at various points during the same lawsuit.
Shestowsky said she plans to use Brand’s support to compare data regarding litigants’ attitudes across a wide spectrum of cases in the hope of providing information that can help shape ADR practices to best suit litigants’ preferences. Brand’s gift will enable her to involve more King Hall students in her interdisciplinary research program, and also involve doctoral students from the social sciences, Shestowsky noted.
“I could not be more grateful for the investment that Norm and Nancy have made in my research program,” Shestowsky said. “It is my hope that the discoveries that my research team makes, thanks to their support, will equip lawyers, judges, ADR neutrals, and policy-makers with insights that they can use to can make court-sponsored ADR more accessible and more just.”