Stierheim to work with law firm as mediator
By Sherri C. Ranta
After 45 years of public service, Merrett Stierheim will step into the private sector as an arbitrator and mediator in a new post that teams him with a prominent Miami law firm.
Most recently Miami-Dade County school superintendent and former manager of Miami-Dade County and the City of Miami, among other administrative positions, Mr. Stierheim will offer expertise in mediation, arbitration and management consulting. He will share offices with the law firm Wetherington, Klein and Hubbart at One Biscayne Tower.
"Much of my working life has been focused on trying to fairly and equitably resolve issues and disputes among individuals and/or organizations," Mr. Stierheim, 70, said Tuesday.
While he is a member of the Complex Arbitration Panel of the American Arbitration Association, a professional provider of alternative dispute resolution and a soon-to-be certified mediator of the Florida Supreme Court, Mr. Stierheim is not an attorney.
Arbitration and mediation services offer parties in disputes alternative resolution to the court system. Large complex cases, according to the association's website, involve high profile, multi-party disputes of $1 million or more.
Typical cases, according to the association, are claims between landlords and tenants of large commercial properties and royalty and patent disputes across national borders.
Mr. Stierheim said he's chaired or sat on three major arbitration cases, including one involving South Florida-based boxing promoter Don King.
He said he expects to handle disputes ranging from governmental - between two counties or agencies, for instance - to construction, complex commercial and collective bargaining cases. His extensive background in government management, he said, afforded him many opportunities to be involved directly in the past.
A start date is still on hold, though Mr. Stierheim says he will enjoy the opportunity to be selective in his work activities and perhaps start an anecdotal book on management. "Who knows? Once this hits the street, there may be some activity relatively soon, but I'm trying to get my personal affairs in order - straighten out some files."
That may take some time. Mr. Steirheim spent the past 21/2 years as head administrator leading reform in Miami-Dade County Public Schools. His last day at the district was June 30.
Prior to the district job, Mr. Stierheim worked as city manager, county manager, president/CEO of Greater Miami Convention & Visitors Bureau, president/CEO Women's Tennis Association, and with several municipalities in the county.
While he plans to spend most of his professional time at his new downtown Miami office, Mr. Stierheim said he also will serve as a senior adviser to the real estate firm Abood Wood-Fay. His son-in-law Michael Fay is a principal in the firm.
"They will invite me, where appropriate, to sit in and advise them on commercial properties," he said, "This will in no way involve any zoning or lobbying with the county or city - in no way, shape or form."
As his departure from the school system drew near, Mr. Stierheim said he had other offers, including one from another law firm and some inquiries from a few developers.
Mr. Wetherington, a longtime friend and former 10-year chief judge of the 11th Judicial Circuit, said the firm has a "tremendous regard" for Mr. Stierheim.
"With some like Merrett Stierheim whose work is so well-known, so well-respected, he will be sought out by people in need of his services."
In the new position, Mr. Stierheim also will share office space with former Florida Supreme Court Chief Justice Gerald Kogan, former 11th Circuit Court chief administrative judge Herbert Klein, former state Appellate Court judge Phillip Hubbart, and attorney Hugo Black, son of the former US Supreme Court Justice by the same name.