Journal Record Staff Reporter
After finding out that retirement wasn't for him, attorney
Jeff Wheatley has found a niche practice that suits his
temperament. He's one of the few lawyers in Oklahoma City to
specialize in dispute mediation.
Mediation, the art of bringing together two potential
litigants and helping them talk themselves into an agreement, is
being viewed by many attorneys and judges as an efficient and
cost-effective alternative to court action.
"Through mediation, we are able to help both sides come to an
agreement usually a lot faster and cheaper than if they filed
lawsuits," Wheatley said. "As an example, I recently mediated a
case in a couple of days, a case which was for slightly over
$10,000 and had been dragging out for five or six years. Can you
imagine having a small case like this hanging over your head for
Wheatley started his practice under the name of Resolve Inc.,
6051 N. Brookline Ave., after he failed as a retired attorney.
"I tried sitting around doing nothing, but I just couldn't
handle it," he said. "I decided to go back into law, but I didn't
want to start again from scratch building a practice like I had
to when I first started.
"Since I have so much experience in mediation and this is
something which doesn't take a lot of my time, I felt it was
something that was worthwhile, that would help the people of
Oklahoma and would suit me."
Wheatley, a 1956 graduate of the University of Oklahoma,
retired to Oklahoma a couple of years ago after selling his
22-year-old California law practice to attorneys who were working
in his office.
"I had built up a reputation and had six lawyers working for
me and I just didn't want to go to all the work of trying to
build something like that again," he said.
After graduating Cum Laude from Pepperdine School of Law in
California in 1970, Wheatley opened a criminal, civil and family
law practice and later began specializing in business and
construction law. He was a member of the Orange County California
Bar Association Ethics Committee where he helped mediate fee
His real experience in mediation began with family law as he
worked to help families solve their difficulties.
"I got into the practice of business mediation because I
handled a lot of construction companies and in that business
there are a lot of disputes," he said. "A lot of times the
disputes involved my clients on both sides so I wasn't able to
represent either one if they filed a lawsuit.
"So what I did is I encouraged them to sit down with me so I
could mediate the dispute and maybe come up with an agreement
they both could live with without having to go through the
courts. Since both sides were my clients, I felt that I gave fair
representation to both.
"One of the reasons mediation appealed to my construction
clients is that it saved court costs and the time it takes a case
to drag through the courts. Besides that, during mediation the
work can continue but if a lawsuit were filed, the work would
stop immediately. Both sides wanted that."
Wheatley said he decided to return to Oklahoma after visiting
relatives many times over the years and remembering what the
state was like.
"After I decided to retire, my wife and I looked at several
locations to retire to, including Lake Tahoe," he said. …