Providence attorney Karen Pelczarski was recently named one of the Top 250 Women in Litigation in the U.S. by Benchmark Litigation. She is one of only three attorneys in the state to receive this recognition.
Pelczarski, who holds a B.A. in economics and music from Wellesley College and a J.D. in law from Boston College Law School, recently opened her own firm concentrating on mediations and appeals. She also teaches an honors seminar called “Emotional Intelligence in the Courtroom,” at Roger Williams University.
This is the second time Pelczarski has been recognized by Benchmark Litigation, a publication focusing exclusively on U.S. litigation.
PBN: How has having your own practice changed your professional goals and/or work?
PELCZARSKI: I’m able to be more selective in the types of cases that I decide to take. One of the reasons why I decided to leave a successful law firm and practice [on my own] was to focus more of my attention to mediating business disputes. [It] gives you more power to come up with more flexible solutions. In the court of law, most of the time, courts and judges can only come up with a decision that involves a lump sum of money. In mediations, somebody can get their job back or an apology; there might be payment of money that’s paid over time [instead of a lump sum].
PBN: Do you see a lot of mediation requests in family-owned companies?
PELCZARSKI: Interestingly enough, many of my mediations have been family disputes or friends that have gone into business together. I enjoy [it because] it becomes more important to get the case resolved. A mediator is typically someone who understands the values of cases, understands the issues and can help both sides come to a middle ground for the parties. Really the only agreement necessary [for mediation] is an agreement to try to act in good faith. [It’s] a very responsible and intelligent way to move on with your life.
PBN: What kind of advice do you impart to your students at RWU?
PELCZARSKI: The things that you need to know beside the facts, like why it’s important to be dressed well, respectful, organized. I tell a lot of war stories. It’s eye opening because it humanizes the whole experience. You’re taught all of these ways of thinking and arguing law, but you’re not thinking about the human part of it. Clients will look for the bulldog attorney, but at the end of the day does the jury want to decide and favor a bulldog or do they want someone who is logical, straight-forward and honest. That’s who you want to root for. •
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