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Attorney and mediator with solo practice
“I had always heard about mediation, and it interested me. When I began looking into programs that offered mediation training, El Centro was close, but then I also began to hear about its reputation. I wanted to learn about what was involved — the processes and purposes of mediation.
“On the surface, mediation appealed to me because as a general rule, I’m a conciliator who enjoys bringing people together. It just fit with my natural inclinations as a person. Then I realized that I could also do this professionally, as well as satisfy my own instincts about interpersonal relationships and how people deal with each other.
“Even though I have a law degree, I’ve spent much of my professional life not being a lawyer. But I don’t regret going to law school for the training and the discipline it provided me. Similarly, in addition the professional training I received in El Centro’s program, I’ve learned ways to resolve conflict that I use in my daily life — with my friends, family and co-workers.
“I would recommend mediation skills to anybody — they’re just good skills to have and apply in everyday life. I also spent a year teaching social studies to sixth-graders in a DISD inner-city elementary school, and it became very apparent to me that the kids had no conflict resolution skills at all. They were very territorial, and being hostile to protect their territory was all they knew. I would like to pursue ways to introduce conflict resolution skills in the schools, where kids can learn those skills at an early age.
“In our society, when people have a dispute, the first thing they usually do is to hire a lawyer and sue. Now, even if people file suit, most judges are ordering them to mediation anyway. Why not start there first? I really believe in the value of all forms of alternate dispute resolution — of which mediation is one form. I think if we could introduce those kinds of skills to kids at an early age, it would be invaluable to them for the rest of their lives.”
Charles Howard earned a bachelor’s degree in political science from SMU, a master’s degree in sports management from Kent State University and a law degree from SMU. He worked in SMU’s athletic department for 11 years as an assistant athletic director specializing in rules compliance. He earned a certificate in Conflict Management at El Centro College in 2002 and began working in December 2008 at Dispute Mediation Service of Dallas.