GABRIEL S. GALANDA – Profile of the Month
- How often do you have cases that involve mediation? I mediate several cases a year. I just mediated a case, and I happen to have two more mediations scheduled in the next two weeks.
- What qualities do you look for in a mediator?
First and foremost, I seek ‘smarts’ or intellectual capability, because the cases that I’m involved with can be very complicated legally, jurisdictionally, or factually. Mediators who have the ability to distill, translate, and leverage very complicated issues is paramount. Bedside manner is also important, especially when we’re representing plaintiffs or tribal clients who’ve had little or no experience with mediation or the law. Reputation is also important and not just the mediator’s reputation to us, but to all interested parties.
- How strongly do you push to have a mediator you propose be accepted by the other side? I certainly advocate for a mediator or mediators of my choosing to be used, but not to the point where that breaks off mediation or taints the process. In my experience, great mediators usually don’t give rise to a lot of debate or posture. So, I typically try to identify mediators who are of great reputation, and that minimizes the debate or jockeying, perhaps, altogether.
- How important is pre-session communication with the parties? It sort of depends. In some cases, I’ve had no pre-meditation communication with the mediator. In other instances, I’ve engaged in pre-communication with the mediator. I always follow the mediator’s lead in that regard. Pre-mediation communication can be important and helpful, or it can be immaterial.
- How important is it for the mediator to follow up if the mediation doesn’t result in a settlement?
That also depends. By the end of the mediation session, it might be obvious that the case cannot settle at that point in the litigation, in which case post-mediation follow-up is extraneous. In other situations, it might be that the settlement simply can’t get done in the one allotted day. So in that instance, follow-up can be advantageous. I have had experiences where that type of follow-up did lead to settlement post-mediation session.
- What ADR topics would you like to see discussed at an ADR-related CLE? I don’t happen to think in my line of work that CLEs on ADR generally are particularly insightful or helpful, although there are issues where Indian law and arbitratability, for example, do intersect. On the flip side, it might be helpful for mediators and neutrals to receive CLEs on tribal legal issues.
- Tell me more about your practice… I co-own and operate a boutique Indian law firm in Seattle, with satellite offices in Yakima and Bend, Oregon. We have eight attorneys practicing in all matters of federal Indian law and tribal law. We handle complex litigation involving tribal or Indian parties in federal, tribal and state court. We handle administrative and regulatory disputes of federal Indian or tribal legal implication. We handle various business transactions arising in Indian country. We also do an increasing amount of civil rights work for both Indian and non-Indian persons or families, predominantly against state and local law enforcement and prison officers.
- Are there any issues or trending topics that you would like to discuss?
Our practice, both tribally and non-tribally, tracks with trends—or regressions—in tribal and non-tribal society. For example, with the rise of tribal citizenship abuses and disenrollment disputes, we have been drawn into a number of those controversies. Likewise, with the rise of law enforcement brutality cases, involving people who’ve been abused or killed at the hands of police or correction officers, we have been drawn into a number of those disputes. Governmental funding plays a role in both types of controversy. In the instance of disenrollment, greed over governmental monies and resources typically fuels tribal political or personal desire to persecute and exile one’s own relatives and to violate those relatives’ civil rights in the process. In the context of law enforcement brutality, our society is in an unfortunate state in which police and corrections officers are not receiving the training they need to deal with people in an agitated or mentally ill state, in part due to a lack of governmental funding. Whether its police forces or jails, state legislatures and local government do not fund training programs the way they must be funded. In turn, officers are ill-suited to deal with people in crisis, and those peoples’ civil rights are violated—or much worse—their lives are suddenly lost.
About Gabriel S. Galanda
Attorney Gabe Galanda is co-founder and managing partner of Galanda Broadman, an American Indian owned law firm dedicated to advancing tribal legal rights and Indian business interests. Gabe’s practice focuses on complex, multi-party litigation and crisis management, as well as representing tribal governments, businesses and members when it matters the most. Gabe is skilled at defending tribes and Indian-owned enterprises against legal attack by local, state and federal government and private parties; advocating for tribal members in disenrollment or civil rights defense; and representing tribal plaintiffs and defendants in catastrophic personal injury lawsuits. Gabe also assists tribes with economic development strategies and transactions. Trained by the American Arbitration Association, he also arbitrates disputes between tribal and non-tribal governments and other parties, as well as mediates such disputes. From 2000 to 2010, Gabe practiced law with a large corporate law firm, where he forged a tribal practice and was the youngest lawyer to ever be elected to the firm’s membership and to serve on the firm’s Board of Directors. Gabe is a columnist for Indian Country Media Network, and writes frequently about tribal litigation, sovereignty and business issues, having been published over 100 times in such other national periodicals as National Law Journal, Business Law Today, Gaming Law Review & Economics, and Indian Gaming magazine. Annually he co-authors the Tribal Court Litigation chapter for the ABA’s Annual Review of Developments in Corporate & Business Litigation desk reference book. Please see his complete bio and CV.