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ProfessionalProfile_2013After more than 27 years of success in mediation, the National Conflict Resolution Center launched the West Coast Resolution Group in San Diego with one goal in mind.  According to Steven P. Dinkin, President of NCRC since 2003, and founder of West Coast Resolution Group in 2010, “We launched West Coast Resolution Group with one purpose: to provide exceptional mediation and dispute resolution services to the legal community.”  To achieve that goal, Dinkin assembled a core group of highly respected neutrals with vast experience in litigating and resolving civil cases.


The four founding neutrals included Denise Asher, Doug Barker, Jim Chodzko and John Edwards. Denise Asher is a former trial attorney and was partner with Strauss & Asher, from 1995 – 2007. Denise turned her focus to providing mediation services to the legal community in 2008 and has a reputation for integrity, professionalism, and tenacity. Doug Barker began practicing law in 1980.  From 1984 through the late 1990’s, he worked as a court-appointed arbitrator, and in 1999, he began mediating. To date, Doug has mediated over 1,500 cases. Jim Chodzko spent 23 years as a civil litigator before becoming a fulltime mediator in 2000.  He is well-known for his extensive knowledge and expertise which he brings to both mediation and arbitration. Similarly, John Edwards has been representing both plaintiffs and defendants in civil litigation since 1977. He began his mediation practice in 2002 and has gained a reputation for successfully working with high conflict personalities and mediating cases in which emotions run high.

With decades of experience, all four of West Coast Resolution Group’s original neutrals “understand the complexities of litigation, and are skilled at resolving a wide variety of disputes including those involving employment law, personal injury, medical malpractice, real estate, business, construction, commercial disputes and many more,” says Dinkin. Now, nearly three years after the group was founded, West Coast Resolution Group has added Rick Barton and Hon. Susan P. Finlay (Ret) as members of its elite team of neutrals.  Rick Barton, a partner at Procopio, Cory, Hargreaves & Savitch, has worked in healthcare law for over 30 years and came to West Coast Resolution Group after having tried over 60 Superior Court jury trials and having presented cases before the California Court of Appeal, California Supreme Court and the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals. Hon. Susan P. Finlay (Ret.) served 32 years on the bench in family court before moving her focus to mediation in 2012. She brought her strong desire to assist families through divorce mediation and private judging to the West Coast Resolution Group team.

Perfecting the Particulars
With hand-selected neutrals of the highest regard serving as the founding members of West Coast Resolution Group, it only made sense for the group to pay equally as much attention to what their clients really wanted from their mediators and their mediation provider.  To that end, West Coast Resolution Group set about distinguishing itself by paying particular attention to details.

From the start, clients contacting West Coast Resolution Group receive boutique-style service.  Every case is assigned a case-coordinator, who administers the case from the initial phone call through resolution or post-mediation follow up by the neutrals. Kathy Purcell, West Coast Resolution Group’s primary case-coordinator, knows most of the clients so well that upon arriving at the group’s Broadway office, clients will typically find their favorite beverage and snacks waiting for them in their designated conference room.

Moreover, West Coast Resolution Group works hard to provide perks that make the process more enjoyable for everyone involved.  Complimentary parking and lunch, and comfortable private rooms with Internet access are niceties that help the sometimes long days of mediation become far more comfortable.  According to Ashley Virtue, Director of External Relations for West Coast Resolution Group, it has always been the objective of the group to provide “simple access to exceptional service.”

Proactive Practices: Time with Clients Outside of Conflicts
Indeed, for West Coast Resolution Group, it is obvious that in order to provide the personalized service clients prefer, the members of the group need to know their clients, personally.  That means that it is important for West Coast Resolution Group’s neutrals and case coordinators to get to know attorneys outside of the mediation setting. West Coast Resolution Group’s strategy for accomplishing this objective is brilliant in its simplicity; they are extremely active in the legal community.

“Events rarely occur in the San Diego legal community, without one of our neutrals or team members in attendance,” says Virtue.  “There is no better way to learn what our clients want than to be actively involved with them outside of mediating cases.”  To illustrate, the neutrals and team members of West Coast Resolution Group are actively involved in sponsoring and attending events hosted by the San Diego Defense Lawyers (SDDL), Consumer Attorneys of San Diego (CASD), Lawyers Club, American Board of Trial Lawyers (ABTL), San Diego Inns of Court, American Inns of Court, local law schools, San Diego County Bar Association (SDCBA), and more.

“We are everywhere,” says Virtue.  “That’s because we don’t just want your business.  We are committed to being an integral and contributing part of the legal community.”

This three-pronged approach to providing exceptional service, beginning with the expertise and experience necessary for successful mediations, through the personal touches that West Coast Resolution Group has made it a point to emphasize, to the group’s vast involvement in the legal community, has paid off for West Coast Resolution Group.  “In a relatively short period of time, West Coast Resolution Group has earned a reputation for delivering top-notch services in a personalized fashion,” Virtue explains.

According to President Steven Dinkin, West Coast Resolution Group is just getting started. “We will continue to add well-respected neutrals to our panel who share our vision and commitment to providing exceptional service to the legal community.”


Kathy Purcell
625 Broadway, Suite 1221San Diego, CA 92101

Jennifer Hadley

Jennifer Hadley is a Staff Writer for Attorney Journal

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About the Author: Jennifer Hadley is a Staff Writer for Attorney Journal

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