Mediators Patty LaTaille and JD Longwell

Mediators Patty LaTaille and JD Longwell sit outside their office on U.S. 50 in Salida. The pair began practicing together a year ago under the name Keeping the Peace Mediation Services.

Professional mediators Patty LaTaille and JD Longwell say they have found that working as a male-female team benefits their practice and their clients.

Though they work individually as well, the pair said they work as a team when there is a “male-female aspect” to a conflict, which is often the case in divorce-related disputes.

“With certain mediations it’s good to have that male-female energy,” said LaTaille.

Longwell said about half of the hours he bills as a mediator are related to divorce, the other half being small claims disputes.

As mediators, LaTaille and Longwell said they offer a less combative alternative to the court system.

“Society discounts the level of trauma individuals experience when they go through the court system. Mediation is a less adversarial and more user-friendly approach to resolve conflict and help people reach mutually agreeable solutions,” said LaTaille.

“I didn’t get involved in mediation because of the money, but rather because it humanizes the conflict resolution process. It brings the two parties together rather than pitting them against each other,” she said.

Mediation also helps courts conserve their resources, said Longwell.

“If we are talking about a few hundred dollars on a dispute about damage or something, that’s not something the courts want to spend a lot of time on. Most judges now prefer that those kinds of cases go to mediation because it’s a waste of court resources,” he said.

For LaTaille, who also directs the nonprofit Full Circle Restorative Justice, her choice to begin practicing mediation five years ago was a “natural progression from doing restorative justice work.”

For Longwell, on the other hand, his choice to begin mediating professionally two years ago was a major shift away from his past life as an expert in agricultural commodities.

“I didn’t do anything like this before getting into mediation,” Longwell said. “But I like to work with people.”

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