LOS ANGELES - Former Los Angeles Mayor James K. Hahn, who has been working in the private sector since leaving public office three years ago, has joined Alternative Resolution Centers as a mediator.
Since he lost his 2005 re-election bid to Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, Hahn, 57, had been with Chadwick, Saylor & Co., a real estate investment firm with offices in Los Angeles and Atlanta.
Hahn said he developed negotiation and mediation skills during his years as a public servant and wanted to use those skills to resolve disputes in both the public and private sectors. He decided to join Alternative Resolution Centers after talking about the opportunity with Amy Newman, the president of the center and a longtime acquaintance, he said.
"Obviously, it's something I was involved in a lot as a city attorney," Hahn said. "We were big users of mediation services from many different vendors. I think I'd enjoy it."
He will focus on mediations involving business, finance, public policy and personal-injury issues.
The former mayor brings not only his high-profile status but also his experience solving problems for all types of public and private entities, Newman said. The group employs 60 neutrals, including attorneys and retired judges.
"He ran the second-largest city in world. It certainly takes the skills and techniques we use here," Newman said.
She said she has confidence Hahn will be successful in attracting clients to the center.
"I feel he's going to be very popular," Newman said. "I don't think people are going to come to him because he was mayor but because of who he is and his areas of expertise."
Hahn, a Democrat and graduate of Pepperdine University Law School, ended a 24-year career in politics when he lost the race for mayor. After graduating from law school in 1975, Hahn first served as L.A. deputy city attorney before being elected to city controller in 1981. He became city attorney four years later for a 16-year run before taking office in 2001.
As mayor, Hahn engineered the 2002 appointment of William J. Bratton, a former New York police commissioner, to Los Angeles police chief, a decision that was considered successful because of the downturn in crime that followed.
Hahn also was credited with keeping the city together, defeating efforts by residents in San Fernando Valley to secede from Los Angeles.
But with his popularity sagging and weakened from a City Hall corruption investigation, Hahn became the first Los Angeles mayor not to win re-election since 1973.
Hahn joined Chadwick as a managing partner and later became CEO of Los Angeles Development Partners, a partnership with his firm that aimed to develop affordable housing near transit lines.
Darry A. Sragow, a public policy partner with Sonnenschein Nath & Rosenthal in Los Angeles who knows Hahn through his involvement in California politics, said the move is an unusual in that he does not know of anyone who has held an office as high as city mayor before going into neutral work.
But Sragow said he believes the former mayor will do well as a mediator.
"He's a very thoughtful, fair person who thinks things through carefully," Sragow said. "I think he's incredibly thoughtful and tries to be very balanced."
Hahn will work in both the Century City and downtown Los Angeles offices of Alternative Resolution Centers.