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JewishJournal.com

December 28, 2006

Yoram Hassid: The Man in the Middle

http://www.jewishjournal.com/articles/item/yoram_hassid_the_man_in_the_middle_20061229

Yoram Hassid
Barri Evins

Alex Baum

Betty Neymark

Eve Marcus

Fran Rosenfield

Marilyn Harran

Noah Bleich

Rebecca Levinson

Yehoram Uziel

Yoram Hassid

For the past 20 years, Yoram Hassid, a 60-something financially successful general contractor, has been quietly helping scores of local Jews -- in particular Iranian Jews -- avoid the courtrooms, acting as an unpaid mediator in disputes over everything from multimillion dollar real estate deals to challenging family conflicts.

"I'm not a storyteller, I'm only here to help solve people's problems," replies a humble Hassid when asked how many people he has aided or how much money he has had his clients donate to international Jewish charities in lieu of receiving fees for his services.

Hassid started as a mediator in the Iranian American Jewish Federation's committee to help the community resolve business troubles outside of the court system, but now volunteers his mediation services alone. After the death of the committee's chairman, Davood Ghodsian, Hassid and other committee volunteers a few years ago formed the Arbitration and Mediation Committee, an independent mediation group based in Beverly Hills.

Hassid said that he primarily handles cases of misunderstandings between the parties, rather than intentional fraud, because in the latter, one of the parties is unlikely to agree to attend mediation sessions.

"I've had success in resolving 80 percent of the cases that have come to me, where I was able to convince both parties to accept a mutual settlement," Hassid said.

But he refuses to take all the credit for his successes, and he said local rabbis, community leaders and even attorneys have been instrumental in referring cases to him and providing support during mediation sessions.

"He knows the 'bazaar mentality' from Iran and is able to speak with people with that in mind," said Noah P., an L.A. area real estate broker and former Hassid client, who did not want to give his name for business reasons.

"Getting the money was not important to me, but I will forever be grateful to him because of the fact that he voluntarily came forward to help me and spent a substantial amount of time on my case when others were not able to do so".

"Mr. Hassid has been very instrumental in resolving several tough cases which others have not been able to conclude," said Rabbi David Shofet of the Nessah Cultural Center in Beverly Hills. "His activities are a blessing for many who might otherwise land in the court system and we are grateful for his help."

The American litigation process was initially an unfamiliar concept to Iranian Jews, who for centuries in Iran resolved business disputes with the aid of elders in their communities. In Iran, their cases were heard by community leaders, and all parties were persuaded to find a fair compromise, since Jews often did not have recourse of going to the country's Muslim-dominated courts.

While Hassid has never had any formal legal education, four of his six children are now attorneys.

"The first thing he has is an incredible ability to go inside the heads of both the parties and understand their perspectives; this is not a gift that everyone has," said Hassid's daughter, Yifat, a Century City attorney. "He also has an uncanny ability to skip through all the great nonsense and force the parties to get to the heart of matter with the goal of finding a solution."

The Arbitration and Mediation Committee can be reached at (310) 860-1826.

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