<title>10-22-96:Address at Woodrow Wilson High School, Washington, DC. - Peer Mediation </title>







         7                     PEER MEDIATION

         8              ATTORNEY GENERAL JANET RENO






        14               Woodrow Wilson High School

        15      Nebraska Avenue and Chesapeake Street, N.W.

        16                    Washington, D.C.





        21                    October 22, 1996

        22                        2:00 p.m.


         1                  P R O C E E D I N G S

         2               MS. RENO:  Thank you very much.  And

         3     it is a real pleasure for me to be here today.

         4               As State Attorney in Miami, I would

         5     try to go to a different public school on the

         6     average of once a week to talk with students,

         7     younger and older, because I find that students

         8     ask me better questions than anybody --

         9     including newspaper reporters.  And they also

        10     have better ideas than most people I know.  So

        11     I really appreciate the opportunity to be here

        12     today with you.

        13               You are involved in efforts close to

        14     my heart.  The whole concept of mediation,

        15     dispute resolution, and conflict resolution, I

        16     think is critical.  As a lawyer, I see lawyers

        17     fuss with each other.  And they go to trial.

        18     And they waste people's money going to trial,

        19     and then appealing the case, and then carrying

        20     it out.

        21               When if they sat down and talked with

        22     each other, they could probably resolve the


         1     case much more beneficially to everybody

         2     concerned, at a lot less money and a lot less

         3     time.

         4               I am gratified to see that lawyers

         5     across the country are beginning to understand

         6     this more and more each day.  And in the

         7     Department of Justice, we use mediation and

         8     alternative dispute resolution as a really

         9     important tool in resolving some of the cases

        10     that we have when we represent the government,

        11     or when we are suing on behalf of the United

        12     States government.

        13               But I think not only mediation has

        14     become more important to Justice Department

        15     lawyers, I have tried to encourage them to

        16     learn from mediation, and learn how to

        17     negotiate themselves without even the necessity

        18     for a third-party mediator, as a way of talking

        19     problems out.

        20               One of the things I discovered is

        21     that it is a matter of communication.  It is a

        22     matter of talking to people and knowing how to


         1     communicate, and most of all, knowing how to

         2     listen.

         3               If I sit around my table in the

         4     conference room at the Department of Justice, I

         5     can see people with five or six different

         6     points of view.  And when I first start

         7     listening to them, they are not listening to

         8     each other.  They are talking past each other.

         9               And so we try to get them into

        10     talking to each other, and listening, and

        11     communicating, and having a respect for each

        12     other's views.  And it makes such a difference.

        13               I see what can be done through

        14     mediation and through negotiation, in terms of

        15     settlements of conflict in the field.  For

        16     example, the way the FBI handled the Freemen

        17     situation in Montana is an example of how the

        18     Department is trying in every way it can to use

        19     negotiation and mediation as an important tool

        20     in resolving disputes without guns.

        21               The Community Relations Service is a

        22     tremendously important entity in the Department


         1     of Justice.  And it works so well in doing so

         2     much in communities to resolve disputes.

         3               Sometimes the negotiation or the

         4     mediation produces a result that can make such

         5     an important difference.  We are involved in

         6     environmental litigation.  And if we just win

         7     the suit, we may not win the day.

         8               Whereas if we negotiate the matter,

         9     and work out the matter, or have it mediated,

        10     we can not only say, "Okay.  You are liable.

        11     But here is what you can do to correct what

        12     caused the problem in the first place, and here

        13     is how we can work together to improve the

        14     community."

        15               Why I am particularly gratified to be

        16     here today is to hear from you about your

        17     diversity workshop.  I think that this is

        18     critical.  I come from Miami, which is now one

        19     of the great international cities of the world:

        20     so many different languages, so many different

        21     people from all over this Western Hemisphere.

        22               When I first was growing up in Miami,


         1     it was basically a city that represented the

         2     East Coast of the United States, and not much

         3     more.  And it has been so magnificent to see

         4     how that city has become so much greater

         5     because of its diversity.

         6               I would like to know first-hand today

         7     what you are doing here with at Woodrow Wilson

         8     High, and what I might take back to the

         9     Department of Justice to share with other high

        10     schools across the nation in terms of the work

        11     you are doing in diversity, and with your

        12     workshop.

        13               So one of the reasons, as I said, I

        14     like to come to schools is you ask better

        15     questions, and have better ideas.  And I would

        16     like to hear from you now about how you are

        17     using mediation, about your diversity workshop,

        18     and what I can take back to the Department of

        19     Justice.  And also any questions you have about

        20     what we do about the Department of Justice, or

        21     about what I do as Attorney General.

        22               Just generally to give you some


         1     scope, as Attorney General, I am responsible

         2     for the FBI, the DEA, the Bureau of Prisons,

         3     the Immigration and Naturalization Service, and

         4     most of the Government lawyers.  So there is a

         5     lot on my plate.

         6               But I have got 103,000 people working

         7     with me.  And they are great people, for the

         8     most part.  So it has been an extraordinary

         9     challenge.

        10               I would make one final comment.  The

        11     fact that you all are here and involved today

        12     is indicative to me of your commitment to

        13     others.  But I urge you, no matter what you do

        14     with your life, to consider some form of public

        15     service during the course of your career.  It

        16     is a wonderful feeling.

        17               It is great to be a lawyer.  But it

        18     is much greater to be a lawyer using the law to

        19     try to serve people, and to try to do it the

        20     right way.  These three and a half years have

        21     been an extraordinary opportunity to try to do

        22     that.


         1               And so I would like to hear from you

         2     now about questions you may have, or what you

         3     are doing here at Wilson.

         4                      *  *  *  *  *