About Me

In my day job, I’m a lawyer, business advisor and sometime mediator and arbitrator in Wellesley, Massachusetts, USA, helping clients locally and internationally with general business and business/legal matters and with resolving their disputes. That part of my practice is described at www.jfinklawadr.com.  I also provide clients with options for family disputes including mediation and Collaborative law, as described at www.bostonfamilymediation.com, and often work with other professionals at the intersection of divorce and business issues. While the core of my practice is in building long-term relationships with clients, I’m also a big believer in using lawyers to resolve disputes out of court. I am the Co-Chair of the Civil Committee of the Massachusetts Collaborative Law Council and Vice-Chair of the Ethics Subcommittee of the American Bar Association Dispute Resolution Section’s Collaborative Law Committee. I approach both the counseling and dispute resolution aspects of his practice from a deal-making background; my courtroom practice is limited to a strategic or litigation management role. I have spent decades negotiating on behalf of clients since graduating from the University of Pennsylvania and Columbia Law School.  While I am currently in practice by myself, I have also worked for a number of major firms, including as Senior Counsel at Proskauer Rose LLP in New York. Since I am a lawyer, I must give a caveat that parts of this blog may constitute attorney advertising.  There’s more detail about advertising on my business websites.

I’ve also studied martial arts for about 10 years. What I learned along the way is that the black belt is not an end point, but just a hard-earned ticket to the bleacher seats. Once you’ve achieved a basic foundation, you can take it in ten thousand different directions. My school teaches a mixed system, with the idea that over time exposure to a range of styles will increase overall abilities, teach people better control over their bodies and, frankly, stay interested in a lifetime of learning an ever-changing palette of techniques. Beyond basic material common to many styles of Asian martial arts, I know major pieces of the Hong family system (Hong Gar), Yang style taiji, Northern long fist (Changquan), Buddha palm (Wing Chun), Sun style Ba Gua and a number of Qigong exercises from both the Buddhist and Daoist systems (including the so-called Yiquan system underlying all the internal martial arts). Along the way, I have also picked up a handful of weapon forms and bits and pieces of other martial arts. I work much more on form, application and conditioning than on heavy-duty sparring.  Maybe if I were younger ….

If you are familiar with any of these martial arts, you might notice a theme: unlike karate or judo, they are not competition-based systems. Their origin, through Shaolin and Wudang pathways, is in military and street fighting applications. Not that my goal is neck-breaking – but they can be vicious.  Getting comfortable with that, and with learning to control the expression of the art, helps me work with the anger that so many clients express.

Since all of us have a tendency to look for patterns in the most unlikely places, the thoughts expressed in this blog are mostly based on personal insights. If the details of the martial arts are not precisely what you have learned, or if the negotiation techniques do not match up completely with the academic research, please forgive. Take a step back and see if the overall lessons still apply.

Thank you for following. I hope you enjoy.

  1. I love your synthesis. It’s fascinating. What a great skill you have – to be able to observe without getting emotionally hooked, to make a deliberate and resourceful choice. That makes you king in the country of the one-eyed men. I am a beginner who started with kempo karate (but I got tired of the injuries) and now I am learning Tai Chi (Yang style). I am a happily reformed divorce lawyer turned marriage coach, and I also like to apply the lessons of Tai Chi to my life. I wrote an article called “Tai Chi Walking on Yom Kippur” http://sacredspacemarriage.wordpress.com/2012/09/21/tai-chi-walking-on-yom-kippur-by-hanna-perlberger/

    • Thanks, Hanna, for reading and for the compliments. Since Yang style tai chi is what first drew me into thinking about the inner workings of martial arts, I wish you many years of enjoyment in your studies. It really is the “Great Ultimate,” with no limit on how deep you can go.

      You’re right that Tai Chi’s lessons carry over easily into daily life, and I have a handful of future posts on the drawing board about how to take it to the negotiating world. But first I want to go through some of the main animal systems. I hope to get the tiger out in the next few days. Please keep reading!

  2. This would make a great component to a CLE course or mediation training

  3. Hi Jeffery my names Noah Keller, I’ve been practicing several different styles of Chinese martial arts such as drunken fist and northern shaolin, along with those two main ones i dabble in tai chi, iron fist and many others. i found your blog through a google search for some of the styles i’m learning and found your blog, reading some of the articles has taught me much and i will continue to follow as long as keep writing.

    • Hi Noah, glad you’re enjoying the blog. There’s an infinite amount to learn with this stuff, isn’t there? Things that have a martial purpose in one context translate well to others. Just the other day I was showing an older gentleman how he could open a door with just his arm or by using his whole body in a tai chi rollback movement. Guess which one was easier for him? It’s a leap to take on translations to cognitive and interpersonal activities, but it’s fun stuff to think about and it can actually help improve your forms if you can integrate both your body and mind into the movements. Think of how the various animal forms are taught. How many times have we heard, “Be the monkey,” or “Be the tiger?”

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