Meet Our Neutrals — Andy Hament

Posted by Richard Lord

November 22, 2023

Life experience forms each of us.  The more variety in our lives, the more opportunities there are to learn and grow.  When a neutral has a variety of life experiences, he or she can be more circumspect and understanding of the diverse needs, wants, and worries of those the neutral is asked to serve.  Andy Hament’s diverse background and interests, that you will see described a bit below, makes him the careful listener, detail-oriented arbitrator, and creative persistent mediator that he is. 

Like most effective mediators and arbitrators, Andy’s route was not a direct line to ADR. From his various jobs before law school, travels, in-house legal experience with a large global technology company, service as outside trial counsel, and role of managing partner, Andy has gained substantial experience and a broad-based perspective.  We are fortunate to have Andy as a part of our team of neutrals and hope that you enjoy learning more about him.

What did you do before becoming a mediator? 

I took a year off from school after college. I worked in construction, strung tennis rackets and valet parked cars next to the famous Pimlico Racetrack in Baltimore. With the money I saved, I bummed around Europe. I then decided to attend law school. For some crazy reason, I loved it! What is better than reading all types of bizarre cases and then talking about them? Importantly, I learned how to logically sort through and apply the law to all kinds of complicated and often delicate people situations. Early in my legal career, I had an eight-year stint as in-house counsel focusing on labor and employment law, government contracts, commercial and international law for a high-tech company with 30,000 employees worldwide. I went on to work for various law firms specializing in labor and employment law. Before I transitioned to mediations, I spent over a decade as the managing partner of the Melbourne office of Ford Harrison, one of the largest labor and employment law firms in the country. 

What did you like most about your prior career?

I enjoyed the people side of things. As a labor and employment attorney, you are constantly sorting out complicated people situations. One day it is resolving a contentious union negotiation, the next investigating and advising on “Me-Too” allegations, and the next finding a respectful and dignified way to separate a long-term employee or executive. You must know the law, but you also need to understand what makes people tick – psychology. My in-house counsel experience proved to be invaluable as I was also able to see these situations from a client perspective.  I enjoyed the litigation side of things, especially trying cases. There is nothing more exhilarating than effectively cross examining a hostile witness. You must be well-prepared and fast on your feet.  However, what I liked the most was the “counselor” part of being an attorney.  My true forte, I believe, was providing good practical advice for resolving a dispute before it ever escalated to litigation.

What is your favorite part of being a mediator?

That’s easy. My favorite part of being a mediator is helping people resolve difficult disputes and moving on with their lives. Having litigated cases for almost four decades, I will be the first to say that litigation is a very, very hard way to resolve a dispute. It is expensive. It is highly stressful. It can take years to get through trial and then years of appeals. Litigation is unpredictable. The parties have likely been living with the situation for years and have a deep understanding of their dispute and the facts that led up to it. Not so with a judge or jury. In a very short period of time and under rigid evidentiary rules, a judge or jury must try to understand an often complicated factual situation and then quickly choose a winner. They don’t necessarily get it right.  The very best of trial attorneys will tell you that you never know how a judge or jury is going to decide your case. The beauty of mediation is that the parties control the outcome. Litigation dwells on bad things from the past. I like to help people move into the future.

What do you wish people did more often in mediation?

Stop posturing. Stop bluffing. In my experience, the most productive mediations are where the parties are straightforward and open to seeing both sides of an issue.  Bluffing, and too much posturing can come across as disingenuous, and without maintaining credibility you may make it hard to keep the other side engaged and listening to your position. Why wait until late in your case to honestly analyze and discuss the strengths and weaknesses of your case? Do it now and stop the bleeding.

Did you have a mentor? How did he/she influence you?

My father. He was a true World War II hero. He was a pilot and flew 78 combat missions in a B-25 bomber (he named “Miss Baltimore”).  After serving 20 years in the Air Force, he effortlessly maneuvered into a second career and went on to become one of the most accomplished labor lawyers in the country. Of his many attributes, what impressed me more than anything was his utmost honesty and integrity. I constantly heard from his adversaries how much they respected and trusted him. As they say, his word was golden. I learned from him that there is nothing more important than your reputation.

What is your favorite movie? Book? Pastime? Sport, etc. and why?

Movie: “The Darkest Hour” – the story of Winston Churchill’s refusal under intense pressure to strike a deal with Hitler in the early days of World War II. His courage, insights and determination saved the world from Nazi domination.

Book(s): I have enjoyed all the John Grisham novels. I don’t particularly like the way he negatively portrays the legal profession, but he makes up for that with his gripping and colorful story telling.

Pastime: I am a sports nut. Weather permitting, I play tennis four times a week and golf twice a week. Skiing in the Rockies is another passion, but for now I have backed off double black runs.