A good legal education provides a spark that ignites a life’s passion. The year was 1985 and John Greer was an analyst for the Intelligence Community and a third-year evening student at Maryland Carey Law. He enrolled in Counseling and Negotiation, which he would later say was “the most influential class I took in law school and a defining point in my career.”
The course struck a chord with him because it offered a more productive way of solving problems. Instead of hardball confrontational tactics, the class taught skills and techniques such as interest-based negotiation, focusing on issues and principles instead of people, and prioritizing long-term relationships.
Greer immediately began implementing the new methods at his job with positive results. His effectiveness was recognized by his peers and supervisors, leading to a career in dispute resolution that provided benefits for himself and the nation.
After graduating, Greer put his skills to good use as a litigation attorney for four years representing the Intelligence Community in resolving nationally recognized cases.
He then moved into the legislative field where he stayed for 14 years and rose to become the legislative counsel for his agency.
In a world where legislative work can take years, Greer used his skills daily with Congress, the Intelligence Community, other agencies and departments, and the White House to move forward legislation.
“In the Intelligence Community getting a lot done means making the country safer,” said Greer.
Before retiring in 2013 as the senior counsel, Greer served as counsel to his agency’s internal alternative dispute resolution program, helping to establish new policies and programs. He worked with senior management to emphasize the connection between low employee morale and negative consequences for national security. He focused on supporting a workplace dispute resolution program that resolved conflicts in productive ways.
Greer reconnected with the law school through C-DRUM in 2013. In the midst of the federal sequestration and with Greer’s support, C-DRUM provided 40 hours of basic mediation training for approximately 20 Department of Defense employees.
This past year, Greer assisted the Mediation Clinic by mediating during the Clinic’s representation in mediation segment. The one month segment partners students in the roles of attorneys and clients. The students simulate conducting a client interview, selecting a mediator, and drafting a mediation statement. The segment culminates with an in-class simulation involving the opposing attorneys and clients and a local mediator serving as the neutral.
Shortly after retiring, Greer expanded his firm, Patuxent Mediation Services, LLC, where he regularly provides private mediation, arbitration, and conflict management services. He is a roster mediator for 10 Maryland circuit courts and volunteers for the mediation programs at the Maryland Commission on Civil Rights and the Mediation and Conflict Resolution Center at Howard Community College.
He is encouraged by the growth of dispute resolution in Maryland and has observed more and more attorneys with an interest in working things out cooperatively.