Mark Baer’s parents divorced when he was a child, an experience that initially made him want to avoid the field of family law, which often deals with separations and divorce. But the Pasadena attorney says he later saw that his experience helps him approach his work with compassion. He knows firsthand how difficult any type of separation can be on a family, especially with the tug of war that often plays out between parents. Baer says his goal is to help families avoid conflicts instead of exacerbating them. Baer recently spoke with the Business Journal about his work, keeping things in perspective and emotional intelligence.
Describe your morning routine.
Typically, I get up at least one or two hours before I need to be at work. I’m using social media and reading a bunch of articles. I’m in a variety of groups on LinkedIn, and I look through recent discussions of various topics. I drink a cup of coffee. Sometimes I have a breakfast meeting.
What does a typical work day look like for you?
I would be working in the office from 9 to 12 or 1 p.m. I take lunch. I’ll have a mediation session usually for two or three hours. I might be having a consultation for possible clients.
How do you maintain work/life balance?
One thing that’s wonderful is that we (he and his spouse) live in the Eaton Canyon area in Pasadena. My backyard opens into the canyon. I can come home, and I can see deer in my backyard. It just puts things in perspective. It’s very calming. I tend to take at least a half hour walk at the end of the day every day which is relaxing. I try to go to the gym once or twice a week. I do a lot of research and writing. I find it very relaxing. I’m just naturally a very curious person. I’m like a sponge, and I’m constantly trying to learn more. I do like to try to take three weeks of vacation off a year, and I love going to concerts.
How do you keep a healthy perspective on relationships given the work that you do?
I’m doing so much research on improving how people communicate with each other and improve their co-parenting and improve their relationships. My spouse is extremely supportive. We’ve both benefited from it. I write articles on the weekends. Obviously, that’s eating into my own personal time. My spouse is very supportive of the work I’m doing and the positive feedback I’m getting from people all over the place because I’m giving them such important information.
What is your greatest accomplishment?
I would say it probably has to do with the written work I do. In “Empathy and Decision Making” (in the Huffington Post), I was talking about the importance of being empathic when making decisions. The job of a great mediator is they have to be able to see things from different perspectives. Lawyers are known to be analytical and logical, but they’re rated very poorly on emotional intelligence. You can’t help people resolve conflict if you don’t have emotional intelligence. The higher the conflict, the more time it takes to resolve the conflict. I think emotional intelligence is extremely important. I would say my personal experience plays a significant role in that.