Talking It Out
What’s the secret to mediator
Yvonne Takvorian Saville’s success?
Letting everyone have their say
BY AMY KATES
PHOTOGRAPHY BY LUIGI CIUFFETELLI
A SEASONED PRO WHEN IT COMES
to reading body language and facial
expressions, Yvonne Takvorian Saville
tells a story about fishing with her family.
“We just took a trip to Islamorada,
Florida,” she says of her husband, Erik
Saville, and sons Jason and Alex. “We
caught over 400 fish in one week.
Actually, in five days. Thirty-three species.
It was a blast.”
The mediator with Weiss & Saville in
Wilmington doesn’t wait for the follow-up
question. She reads the body language
and immediately answers, “Yes. That is a
lot of fish.”
This ability helps her effectively mediate
up to eight cases per day and still have time
to attend her sons’ baseball games. She
taps a finger on her daily agenda. “So for
example, on this day, I have mediations at
8: 30, 10:00, noon, and 2:00 p.m.; break for a
baseball game at 3: 30, and be back here for
a 5 p.m. and then 6: 30 p.m. mediation,” she
says. “Although, of course, those 6: 30 p.m.
time slots aren’t so popular with clients.”
They’re popular enough. Saville estimates
she mediated and arbitrated 1,300 cases in
2013, up from 700 the year before.
“The word is out,” says Bernard A. Van
Ogtrop, a senior partner at Wilmington’s
Seitz, Van Ogtrop & Green who has known
Saville for 20 years and who has worked with
her on mediations. “It’s no secret that she's
known to be very efficient, energetic, and
can get the job done. I’ve been at this game
a long, long time and tried many more jury
trials than I wanted, and I’ll tell you this—if
you can avoid trial, you should, but only if the
result you get in mediation is correct.”
Of course, neither party walks away
from mediation with everything he or she
wanted. But Saville pulls no punches
in ensuring that all parties know the
difference between an offer on the table or
a walk out her door.
“I think what Yvonne brings is a dose of
reality,” Van Ogtrop says. “When a case
has warts, she points them out in a very
gentle and sincere way. The issues in cases
that people gloss over or don't want to