“My Story” Featuring Robin H. Gise, Esq.
Ms. Gise joined JAMS in 2015 as a skilled mediator and arbitrator with extensive experience resolving complex employment and labor disputes.
Ms. Gise took an untraditional route to JAMS. After college, she worked as a union organizer for workers in chicken processing plants across the South, then as a tenant organizer in New York City, helping Section 8 tenants fight for better conditions in their buildings. As a tenant organizer working with Legal Aid, she was introduced to the power of advocacy.
“That was the first time I actually thought about going to law school,” she says, “because I could see how advocacy could lead to positive change.”
During her third year of law school, she represented restaurant workers who hadn’t been paid minimum wage or overtime, and her fate as an advocate was sealed. As the years went on, however, she began to see that she wasn’t suited for litigation because she was naturally inclined to see things from the other side’s point of view. When she began attending mediations, she realized that was how she wanted to engage with the legal system.
“That’s how I wanted my career path to go,” she says.
“Being a woman has been a barrier in my career,” Ms. Gise acknowledges. She was once mistaken for a paralegal when she arrived at a law firm to take a deposition and sent into a room full of boxes.
Being a working mother also proved challenging. As an attorney with young kids, it was difficult to be at the office late at night writing briefs, or as a neutral, mediating cases late into the evening. But now that her kids are older, she is able to focus more on her career.
It’s no surprise, given how Ms. Gise started her career, that she’s involved in a variety of organizations, both in the legal community and beyond. She’s a longtime member of the New York City Bar Association and has been active in its ADR and Labor and Employment Law committees, where she’s participated on panels and in events. “It’s really been an essential part of my legal networking,” she says.
She’s a member of the Eastern District of New York’s ADR panel and its ADR Advisory Council. She also served as a mentor for the JAMS Diversity Fellowship Program, which strives to foster rising diverse ADR talent in the industry.
“I really enjoy being able to give back and make mediation available to the broader community,” she says.
Recipe for Success
Having patience with parties is the first step, but patience doesn’t stop there. “Patience is important in the development of your ADR career,” Ms. Gise advises. Empathy is crucial as well.
“Being able to show genuine empathy to parties and lawyers is critical in mediation.”
As to perseverance?
“You know, you're going to get knocked down,” Gise says. “Sometimes you're going to have cases that don't settle. Or you may encounter people who don’t like you or think you’ve done a bad job. But you have to pick yourself up and keep going.”
Believe in Yourself
Ms. Gise’s title for a book about her life would be “Believe in Yourself.” When asked why she chose that particular title, she said that as a lawyer, mediator and arbitrator—not as someone who came to mediation and arbitration after retiring as a judge or after a long legal career—she’s had to have confidence in herself.
“But every time I doubt myself, I tell myself, ‘No. Just believe in yourself. You can do this.’”
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