Saturday, August 4, 2007

Lessons from the China Law Society

I had the privilege of meeting with 19 Delegates from the China Law Society this week. Judges, Lawyers and Business People came together to learn about Mediation principles from my colleague, Nikki Tolt and I. We met at the Southern California Mediation Association's office, which was a bonus because we could then make introductions to Judge Dorothy Nelson, U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals Judge and Najeeba Sayeed-Miller, Director of the Western Justice Center Foundation. It tuns out that Judge Nelson has visited China many times and is even a member of the China Law Society! She provided an extensive (and intimate) tour of the Federal Court of Appeals in Pasadena, and then entertained questions and made a brief presentation in her chambers--complete with fruit juice and chocolate biscuits! Then the delegation was treated to a brief tour and introduction to the Western Justice Foundation. As usual, I learned more from my "students" than they did from me. What I learned was that the Chinese value balance, harmony, perspective, respect, over law, rules, analysis, and business. The principles of mediation are tautologic to them. It is the principles of law that are new and challenging! Ancient Eastern principles seem so novel and creative to our Western culture. Even by the flash of cameras and the response to the presentation of mediation v. the Court house, it was obvious that the Chinese are way ahead of us in the world of mediation!