Sunday, November 6, 2011

Thinking about the Future of Mediation

I participated in an excellent conference yesterday for the Southern California Mediation Association, "Expanding Horizons, Expanding Opportunities" during which Keynote Speaker, Woody Mosten invited us to consider the state of mediation in 2030. It was an exciting dialogue with ideas ranging from a "Public Mediator" corps, similar to the Public Defender's office to an emergency line, where the first call in case of conflict would be to a local mediator. I was also made to consider that the "Elders" of the future will be those who fought for civil rights in the 60's and may well entertain engaging in more inclusive, collaborative processes than the elders of the last generation. Catching up with lots of colleagues and friends at a spectacular setting out in Malibu made for an invigorating, motivating day. Kudos to SCMA and all of the presenters and planners for an exceptional professional conference. P.S.: If you missed my presentation on Mediation, Ethics, Neutrality and Confidentiality, which I renamed "Dirty Little Secrets", send me an email and I'll fill you in.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

The Mediator as "Silent Partner"

There's been chatter lately on a variety of List serve Discussion Groups about how Mediator's can break an impasse and I have to say, I often follow my cases, sometimes daily until that log jam is broken and the case is settled. But I'm left sometimes feeling like I'm too much in the spotlight when I should be behind the camera recording the "scene" instead. For example, in several cases lately I've been asked my opinion about the following strategies while settlement negotiations are pending: how to answer discovery and when to propound it, whether to consult with bankruptcy counsel and when, whether to communicate a particular offer or rejection of a particular demand to the client now or later. Yikes! Although I enjoy the power and the challenge, I'm left questioning whether I'm becoming the Silent Partner for the inquiring counsel and whether that compromises my neutrality and impartiality in getting the matter resolved. Have we evolved to a place where we do whatever it takes to get a matter settled? Is this added value to my (lawyer) clients? Interesting queries without obvious answers.