Laura Engelhardt ’95 spent 11 years at Goldman Sachs, where she advanced to become head of strategy and planning for the securities division. Her tenure overlapped with the 2008 financial crisis; in the aftermath, she helped to implement the new provisions in the Dodd-Frank Act.
Yet despite her success as a businesswoman, Engelhardt found it increasingly difficult tobalance work and family. “I did some soul searching and looked back at what I liked about law school [at Stanford],” Engelhardt says. “One of the things I loved is alternative dispute resolution.”
That led her in 2017 to found Neutrality Now, a company based in Summit, N.J., focused on arbitration and mediation. Engelhardt’s clients can avoid a long litigation process and expensive lawyers’ fees by having a neutral third party either decide their case or facilitate discussion between disputing parties.
As an example, she mentions a dispute that she handled between a tenant and property owner in New York Civil Court. “It was nice because the judge was completely overwhelmed, presiding over two courtrooms,” Engelhardt recalls. “Not only were the parties happy, you should’ve seen the court attorney’s eyes when we came back and we said ‘they agreed to a settlement.’”
Every negotiation surprises Engelhardt. “I’ve never had the parties reach the agreement that I would have thought they would have reached at the beginning,” she says “Even when people say it’s only about the money, it’s never just about the money.”