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Mitchell Lathrop: Attorney, Arbitrator, Mediator & Expert Witness

MediatoroftheMonth_2013When you have more than 45 years of expertise as a trial lawyer in the areas of insurance and reinsurance, not to mention the 30 years you served the California lawyer disciplinary system, culminating with serving as the Presiding Referee of the California State Bar Court, what is left to accomplish?

Well, if you’re Mitchell L. Lathrop, you might consider writing a book in which you share your expertise in the highly complex field of environmental/insurance claims. Yet, he had already done that. In fact, his book Insurance Coverage for Environmental Claims, published by Matthew Bender Lexis- Nexis, is currently in its 22nd edition.

mitchell lathropInstead, Lathrop decided to put his expertise to use in solving problems both inside and outside of the courtroom, but not in the capacity of trial lawyer. “I am a seasoned trial lawyer who is now concentrating on mediation, arbitration and expert consulting and testimony in insurance, reinsurance and lawyers’ professional responsibility matters,” he says. “I have handled cases in over 30 states and served as the national environmental coverage counsel for one of the nation’s largest insurers. I have tried dozens of court and jury cases to a verdict. Over 20 years ago, I began to recognize that alternative dispute resolution offered cheaper, faster and somewhat more reliable results than traditional litigation,” Lathrop says.

“Today, virtually every international commercial contract of any significance will provide for arbitration as the means for settling disputes. That permits the parties to avoid the vagaries of foreign courts and jurisdictions, while at the same time permitting the parties to select arbitral panels of individuals with expertise in the specific issues in controversy,” he continues.

The decision to use his expertise as a mediator and arbitrator has literally taken him around the world. “As an arbitrator, I am on panels of AAA, ICDR, CPR and on arbitration panels in Switzerland, Australia, Japan, Egypt and Dubai. I’m a member of the London Court of International Arbitration, and am a certified mediator of the International Mediation Institute,” Lathrop says.

Closer to home, Lathrop has been qualified as an expert on insurance and reinsurance in both state and federal courts. “As an expert consultant/witness, I regularly assist other lawyer clients in the preparation of their cases when insurance, reinsurance or lawyers’ professional responsibility issues are involved, thereby saving time, expense and allowing a more focused presentation for the lawyer’s clients,” Lathrop says. He chuckles when admitting that he loves the “mental jousting” which accompanies testifying in court. In fact, over the course of the last 10 years, he has provided testimony in 40 cases, though he admits he is selective about the engagements he accepts. “Unless I’m sure that I can do a good job, I’ll decline the engagement,” he says. Moreover, he continues, “Unless I feel a case is meritorious, I won’t accept the engagement.”

As for future plans, Lathrop is happy to be a sole practitioner after decades with very large law firms, but is thrilled that his practice has him working alongside fellow attorneys on a daily basis. “Virtually all of my business as an expert comes from other lawyers and law firms. I have served as an expert on behalf of insurance companies, on behalf of the clients of some of the nation’s largest and most prestigious law firms, as well as on behalf of the clients of small law firms and sole practitioners,” he says.

Teresa Warren

Teresa Warren, President of TW2 Marketing, Inc.

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About the Author: Teresa Warren, President of TW2 Marketing, Inc.

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