The month’s MovingUp client spotlight is on Teresa Danton, Esq. co-owner of Mediation Alternatives.
Teresa’s company, Mediation Alternatives, provides an alternative to litigation that gives people more control of their outcome, saves time and money, and preserves privacy which results in greater prosperity for everyone involved. Mediators give people solutions to conflicts without expensive attorney’s fees and wasted court time, providing solutions that are always acceptable to the parties; which is unlike a courtroom where the judge’s decision is final and forced upon them. Along with that, all proceedings conducted are confidential and private. Mediation Alternates, focuses mainly on family law, estates, trusts, probate and wills.
For over 30 years, Teresa’s law practice has included Family Law and Civil Litigation across the state of California, handling a wide variety of family law matters involving multi-million dollar estates, breaches of fiduciary duty, complex custody and support issues and division of assets and debts. Her experience earned her positions as a court-appointed mediator, court-appointed arbitrator, expert witness and judge pro tem. Teresa’s reputation garnered her invitations to speak at State Bar presentations on Women in Litigation and memberships on Boards serving bar associations, civic foundations and community outreach and development programs.
After three decades of practing law, Teresa could see that her clients were not being served by the judicial system and could see the institution was falling apart from budget cuts and staff reductions. That was when she started thinking about giving people a way to make their own intelligent and informed decisions about the conflicts they experienced, rather than leaving it up to one judge to decide their fate on that judge’s terms and on that judge’s turf. She said “The judicial system used to be a good place to solve problems, but mediation is a better way. When I show people the law and explain what the black-and-white words can mean in all contexts, and why those words make sense or don’t make sense, people understand what should happen and are able to comfortably live with that fact. The solutions are not ‘losses’, but dignified outcomes.”
Mediation Alternatives is unique because Teresa and her partner Jim Davis, together, meet with each and every client to find answers to problems that people cannot find on their own. Two mediators for the price of one when two heads are better than one! Two mediators also avoids the problem of human nature when one person may try to bias a single mediator and cut off the other person from expressing and advancing their goals. The chemistry created in co-mediation is profoundly different than having just one mediator and it lends to better results. Teresa and Jim are also unique because they offer the “weekend divorce.” They will work from start-to-finish to get the conflict resolved at any location, including international settings and resort venues that offer an element of relaxation and comfort.
Mediation Alternatives was launched this year and they’ve had no real hardships so far, adds Teresa: “The reception from the bench officers and other attorneys and the public has been very positive. If there were hiccups, it’s been in getting the word out for people to know they have this choice. Mediation is an opportunity that a lot of people don’t realize they have available to them. The laws say that courts should encourage people to mediate but many people don’t know about it even though it’s a law. That’s the biggest hardship.”
Teresa combines a healthy, fit lifestyle practicing yoga, meditation, workouts, reading and working. “I love my life in every sense of the word. Its’ fun and its serious and fulfills a lot of my expectations. Live music, great conversation. I respect everyone’s version of fun. What I find fun is getting to know people, especially in their vulnerabilities, and making deep connections. Especially when I can help people through difficult times. People who go through legal problems and disputes are often afraid. I like being able to walk beside them and help.” She’s also certified to teach yoga and meditation, and she likes mentoring younger attorneys and those who want to become lawyers. She says she never married because in many ways she was married to her work. Her life, however , has been rich, full of exotic adventures, international travel, rare and beautiful relationships, and two decades of a lifestyle of celebration.
Teresa went to law school at UCLA and graduated in 1982. She became a criminal prosecutor in the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office, then opened up her own practice in 1988. She retired from being a litigator in 2013 but there was still something in the practice of law that continued to inspire her. Well aware that she was out to make a difference, Teresa and her partner, attorney Jim L. Davis, started Mediation Alternatives.
When asked what advice she had for any new entrepreneurs starting up their business, Teresa said this: “People shouldn’t go into business to make their own lives better. They should go into business to make other peoples’ lives better. Everything isn’t always positive but passion and desire can overtake any obstacle. That’s why we’re are here to make the other peoples’ live betters. Open your heart and keep continuing to open it and let it stay open. It doesn’t just happen once. Open your heart to what you’re doing and people can feel it. That desire and passion ignites everything.”
On how INSURENEX has been resource to her, Teresa was generous to share this with us: INSURENEX has been a pillar in my work. I’ve relied on them every day in every way. When I was a litigator it felt like I was in court 24 hours a day. Jose and Carlos put everything aside when I called. They supported my business and my personal life with their advice and services. Once I was on vacation with friends and an urgent health insurance issue came up and we were each calling all over the place to find answers. The only answer we got was from Jose Alfaro. No one else knew anything. This is the sort of thing that has happened time and again over many years. I have referred family and friends to INSURENEX and without exception have received nothing but positive feedback. They are two of the nicest guys you would ever want to know. They are awesome!”
We salute Teresa Danton, Esq. and Mediation Alternatives for Moving Up in Life; we’re proud to be the one-point of contact for all their business and personal insurance needs.