Susan Bulfinch, JD, is the founder of Arizona Mediation Experts. She is a mediator, trainer, facilitator, conflict coach, speaker and mentor. Often introducing herself as a “recovering attorney” Susan focuses her practice on mediation and ADR, an acronym for Alternative Dispute Resolution.
Susan is a graduate of Hampshire College in Amherst, MA. She spent a year as a visiting undergraduate at Harvard University where she founded the Small Claims Advisory Project at a local courthouse in Boston assisting litigants with the small claims process. One of the judges at the court who also taught at Harvard Law School introduced Susan to mediation and she never looked back.
From there, Susan took all trainings she could find and started mediating consumer, neighbor-to-neighbor, victim-offender, parent-child, and general civil cases for local community centers and the local courts. While living in Boston, Susan worked for Common Ground, a public policy firm, the Veterans Administration and the Mayor’s Office of Consumer Affairs. These experiences led to applying to Southwestern Law School and moving to California.
After law school, Susan traveled and studied international law in Europe through the McGeorge School of Law European Internship Program and interned at the Council of Europe. After returning to the U.S., Susan volunteered at Harvard Legal Aid and served on the board of the Children’s Hearing Project in Cambridge where she continued to hone her mediation skills. After passing the Massachusetts bar, Susan returned to California where she worked in two family law firms that promoted mediation and one that specialized in high profile divorce cases. Susan then opened her own law and mediation practice in Los Angeles before moving to Westlake Village where she specialized in collaborative law and mediation. Susan moved to Arizona in 2006.
Susan finds the mediation process more satisfying for couples who are struggling with family issues in a divorce situation or in matters that involve highly publicized or sensitive matters. Whether it is a homeowner issue or a family or workplace concern, people who are emotionally distressed are relieved to have the opportunity to tell their side of the story, to be heard and understood and to assess their options and create their agreement.
Knowledge and Experience
Susan’s passion is to create an environment for people to talk openly and respectfully about their concerns to reach common ground and outline the terms of their own agreement. She strives to ensure a productive process that is conducive to reaching settlement.
She assists in the resolution of conflicts between husbands and wives, same sex couples, parents and children, elders, and executives, managers, supervisors and employees. In addition to family and workplace disputes, Susan has mediated earthquake claims through the California Department of Insurance, civil cases filed with the Los Angeles and Ventura Superior Courts, the California Court of Appeal and the U.S. Bankruptcy Court.
Susan currently mediates for the U.S. Postal Service REDRESS Program, the Phoenix District Office of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, the Maricopa County Justice Courts and serves on the Employment Mediation Panel of the American Arbitration Association.
Leader in the Community
In Arizona, Susan has served as president of the Arizona Association for Conflict Resolution, past president of the Maricopa County Association of Family Mediators, and former president of the Metropolitan chapter of Arizona Business and Professional Women. She is a member of all these organizations as well as the Scottsdale Bar Association.
In California, Susan served on the executive committee of the California Dispute Resolution Council, past president of the Southern California Mediation Association and former chair of the ADR section of the Beverly Hills Bar Association.
Giving back to the community, Susan has helped coordinate the Peer Mediation Youth Conference, over 25 years old, sponsored by the Arizona Association for Conflict Resolution. This annual day- long event offers training to 200 plus high school peer mediators to hone their skills to mediate disputes in their respective schools.
Mediation and Negotiation Trainer
Susan weaves both theory and practice into her interactive mediation training using case studies and humor. Currently, she is an adjunct professor at Arizona State University Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law assisting in the Mediation Clinic and mentoring students in class as well as observing them in the field. Susan is a frequent speaker on mediation, communication and negotiation.
She developed the curriculum and taught mediation and negotiation classes at University of California, Irvine (UCI) and the University of California, Santa Barbara (UCSB) as well as offering private mediation training and coaching. Susan was hired to revise and create new courses for the Mediation and Dispute Resolution Professional Certificate Program at UCSB. Among the new courses offered was Beyond Reason: Understanding Emotions in Dispute Resolution which she taught along with Family Mediation. At California Lutheran University, she taught Communication for Managers in the Adult Degree Evening Program.
Susan is active in her local community chairing the Literary Salon at the Desert Foothills Library and serving three years on the Board of Directors of the Foothills Community Foundation where she was Event Chair of the successful Healthy Brain Expo series. She participated in the 100th Arizona Town Hall on Civic Engagement in Tucson, AZ.