“A Man with Serious Rhythm” By: Penny Gans, former WAMS Staffer
“No matter what you’re doing, always try to improve by being creative and bringing a different perspective to bear.”
This philosophy has defined Monte Bersante since his early days as a studio drummer and performer in several Seattle indie bands, including “Killeye Candy”, through his medical training, legal career, community service as Board President of Tacoma’s Broadway Center for the Performing Arts, and as a new addition to the WAMS neutral panel.
Monte grew up in Spokane and was playing drums professionally by the age of 14. He was mentored by older musicians and has always enjoyed interacting with musicians of all ages. Monte still does studio work with indie bands in Seattle, using his two, complete 7-piece drum sets and extensive collection of cymbals and favorite snare drums (some more than 30 years old). When Monte’s parents finally convinced him to “get a real job”, he trained as a cardio pulmonary technician and worked on open heart and cath lab teams at Swedish and Harborview Hospitals. While working full time, he enrolled at Seattle U and earned his BA degree in History, then completed his JD at the University of Puget Sound. After interning with the Washington Attorney General’s Antitrust Division, Monte joined Davies Pearson in Tacoma, where he has been a partner since 1993. At Davies Pearson, he was part of the firm’s evolution from insurance defense to broader representation of personal injury, estate planning, employment, workmen’s compensation and business clients. Monte’s medical background has made him a “go-to” person for medical malpractice and serious injury claims in Pierce County.
When Monte joined Davies Pearson, WAMS mediator Larry Levy was the partner who introduced Monte to mediation, then in its infancy. Representing clients in mediation increased Monte’s appreciation of the process of bringing multiple parties together to work through the challenging emotional dynamics. Monte credits his wife, Syd (President of St. Joseph Medical Center), for helping him learn to deal collaboratively with different personalities. As a plaintiff’s lawyer, Monte’s ability to work effectively and creatively with defense attorneys, adjusters and subrogated interests gave him confidence that he could succeed as a mediator.
Monte stresses the importance of creativity and patience in developing strategies for mediating different cases. Monte believes that the mediation process encourages participants to feel that what they say can impact their case. “This is your case”, he tells them. “Talk about what is important to you.” He frequently calls attorneys ahead of a mediation to learn about underlying issues that may not be apparent in their briefing. For instance, has the plaintiff been influenced by a friend or “sidewalk lawyer” who bragged about a huge settlement received (or heard about) for a similar case? Does a relative’s experience or opinion have a real bearing on this specific matter? Monte emphasizes how important it is for lawyers to evaluate their cases appropriately, prepare their clients for the sort of negotiation that happens in mediation and think creatively about settlement.
Monte’s creativity extends to the kitchen, as weekends are his time to prepare family meals. One of his favorite resources is The Flavor Thesaurus, a cookbook where a cook can choose one ingredient and find dozens of possible pairings with others. His enjoyment of good food is made possible by his daily weightlifting workouts, a legacy of a 2011 lifestyle change that enabled him to lose 85 pounds.
For Monte, one of the pleasures of being a mediator is working with and learning from the many excellent lawyers in the Puget Sound area. Monte’s wide- ranging interests and depth of experience have given him the knowledge and interpersonal skills that are essential in mediation. WAMS is delighted to welcome him to its panel.