Category Archives: News about ADR

Kudos to Mediate.com, 2010 recipient ABA Lawyer as Problem Solver Award

The American Bar Association Section on Dispute Resolution has announced that it has honored premier ADR and negotiation web site Mediate.com as the institutional recipient of the prestigious Lawyer as Problem Solver Award.

From the ABA press release:

Mediate.com offers the field one of the most used information resources, replete with blogs, cutting edge articles, news of mediation and negotiation practice, as well as a place for interactive dialogue. The website is a practical tool for practitioners and helps them become more effective problem solvers.

Mediate.com applies the technology of the internet directly to lawyers and dispute resolution practitioners. The founders of Mediate.com had the foresight to see the importance and applications of internet and bring them to bear on a developing field of practice. This groundbreaking website has given tools and resources to the public and to ADR professionals to do their own problem solving in virtually every field of law.

Jeffrey Krivis, a well known leader in the dispute resolution field, expressed it best when he observed that Mediate.com “has become to mediators what Google has become to the Internet.”

To my friends at Mediate.com: congratulations on this well-deserved honor.

Mediation Channel named as 2009 ABA top 100 law blog

ABA Journal Blawg 100What an honor to learn that the American Bar Association Journal selected Mediation Channel as an “ABA Journal Blawg 100” – one of the 100 best legal blogs in 2009 – garnering a spot under the “Practice Specific” category.

Readers are invited to vote for their favorites in each of 10 categories. If you’d like to show your support for Mediation Channel, cast your vote here. Thanks so much, readers. The ballot box closes on December 31.

Only connect: the advantages of reading or writing blogs for the ADR professional

The joys of reading and writing blogs for the ADR professionalFour times each year, the American Bar Association Section on Dispute Resolution publishes Dispute Resolution Magazine, covering trends and news that affect ADR practitioners and scholars. An article I wrote about blogging appeared in the Summer 2009 issue. The folks on the magazine’s editorial board have kindly given me permission to upload it to share it here with you.

This article, “Only Connect: The Impact of Blogging on the Field of ADR“, describes how blogging has changed the way ADR professionals do business, share and debate ideas, and build meaningful personal connections across (and despite) time zones.

Here’s an excerpt:

In his 2006 book Conversation: A History of a Declining Art, author Stephen Miller evoked a golden age of discourse that England enjoyed in the 18th century. The seat of that renaissance of conversation was the coffeehouse, where wit and aphorism flourished. Men gathered to warm themselves with a dish of coffee, transact business, gather news, enjoy the latest gossip, and of course converse.

Although the British coffeehouse has largely faded from public memory, a spiritual descendant has emerged possessing many of its ancestor’s most distinctive attributes: the blog. Like its 18th century predecessor, the blog is simultaneously marketplace, library, and public square, with a wealth of views and ideas clamoring for consideration, attracting businesspeople, scholars, thinkers, writers, celebrities, and ordinary citizens.

ADR professionals and scholars perhaps would have felt at home in the 18th-century coffeehouse. We and the coffeehouse share similar virtues: ours is a field that promotes and pursues the exchange of ideas and information. It is fundamentally about conversation. And, like England in the 18th century, the ADR field is enjoying its own renaissance in discourse, one that flowers lushly online, thanks to the phenomenon of blogging, drawn to its capacity for bringing people and fresh thinking together…

For ADR bloggers and our readers, the phenomenon of blogging has dramatically affected us and the way we practice in three key areas: the business of ADR, the dissemination and discussion of information and ideas, and professional networking. I invite you to explore them with me…

The article also names some essential blogs to follow. Space constrained me, preventing me from adding all that I would. Here’s a far more comprehensive list of 24 outstanding alternative dispute resolution blogs to read regularly.

Mediation certification back on track at Association for Conflict Resolution, but bumps in road ahead

go slow on mediator certificationIn its June 2009 Update (PDF), the Association for Conflict Resolution (ACR) reports that it’s full steam ahead for the ACR Certification Task Force, resuscitated after a three-year break.

According to Nancy Gardner, Co-Chair of the ACR Mediator Certification Task Force, a 2008 survey indicated support for certification from ACR member, providing the impetus for reviving the Task Force. Gardner reports that ACR’s board adopted a call for certification that would be premised upon

basic principles and practices that are applicable across the broad range of mediation, e.g. client self-determination, mediator neutrality, management of process, understanding of conflict theory, etc., but also

  • reliability, involving not only requirements for experience and training but also assessments of knowledge and performance-based skills;
  • accountability, which requires Standards and a Code of Ethics, specific to the areas of expertise with a credible grievance procedure; and
  • inclusivity, requiring that it be available and achievable by diverse demographic groups, and that it be model-neutral.

Certification itself would rest upon training, a portfolio of experience, and an assessment of knowledge and performance-based skills.

Mediators in the U.S. will be watching the efforts of the Task Force closely as its work unfolds.  I already see several challenges that I wonder how ACR will address.

First, the call for inclusivity and a “model-neutral” approach is contradicted by an article written by Gardner’s co-chair Stephen Erickson for ACR’s Family Section newsletter, in which he argued that only certain models of mediation practice should be eligible for certification, expressly excluding evaluative mediation.This is hardly a promising start, not when one of the task force leaders has already made up his mind that “model-neutral” means “all models except”.

Second, the proposed certification framework includes a performance-based assessment. Given ACR’s stated commitment to diversity, I must ask what ACR will do to ensure that such assessments are free from bias and based on objective criteria not subjective observations. Given the widely reported gender discrimination that female musicians suffered until orchestras began utilizing blind auditions to assess candidates, as well as early studies that suggest the existence of discrimination against women who mediate, not to mention real-life anecdotal accounts, ACR must be prepared to explain what steps it can take to reassure women, and minorities, too, that the process will indeed achieve not thwart inclusiveness.

With a hat tip to Ericka Gray.

(Photo credit: Asif Akbar.)

Mediate.com announces mediator certification program

Mediators must measure up for Mediate.com certification programAfter over a year of planning and development, Mediate.com, the world’s best known resource for information and news about alternative dispute resolution and negotiation, announced today that it has taken the wraps off a Mediator Certification Program for well trained and highly experienced mediators.

Mediate.com describes the program this way:

  • Mediate.com first ensures that our Certified Mediators are well trained and experienced.
  • We next insist upon complete information disclosure, including specific practice area case experience. This disclosure is accomplished through the Mediator’s Mediate.com Directory Listing, or a combination of the Mediator’s Directory Listing and their professional web site.
  • Finally, Mediate.com insists upon the highest ethical standards, disclosure of whether the mediator has liability insurance, and the mediator must have references available.

…Mediate.com requires that our Certified Mediators offer mediation as a voluntary process in which participants make all of the decisions. Our mediators are bound to ensure mediation confidentiality.

You can read about the values and principles behind the program or find answers to questions in the FAQs section.

Court-connected mediation in Massachusetts another casualty of tough economy

A door to justice closes in Massachusetts courtsIn news that has stunned the alternative dispute resolution community in Massachusetts, the Massachusetts Trial Court has terminated its mediation contracts with programs approved to provide services in courts throughout the Commonwealth.

This move comes in response to the decision by Massachusetts governor Deval Patrick to order deep cuts in the state budget to offset a projected revenue shortfall of roughly $1 billion. Mediation programs are but one more casualty of the fiscal crisis Massachusetts, like many other states around the U.S., currently faces.

As a mediator — particularly one who devoted time to promoting the use of court-connected ADR as a member of the Trial Court Standing Committee on Dispute Resolution — I feel this blow acutely. It dismays me to see mediation devalued in this way. It is, in Massachusetts at least, expendable not essential.

Fortunately, elsewhere in the U.S., courts are ramping up their commitment to ADR, not downsizing it. Examples include foreclosure mediation programs rolled out in New Jersey, Ohio, and Florida.

How disappointing to learn that Massachusetts, the place where ADR pioneer Frank Sander had his vision of the multi-door courthouse, has elected to slam shut one doorway to justice.

Houston Police Department blog lauds mediation

Houston PD blogsI came across a post titled, “ADR Mediation: A Valuable Tool“, and found it irresistible for two reasons.

Reason 1: It describes an ADR program underway in Houston to provide opportunities for dialogue and improved relationships through mediation between members of the public and employees of the Houston Police Department.

Reason 2: I learned that the chief of police of a major U.S. city blogs. He was the one who posted the article.

Kudos to Houston for the mediation program and the blog.

The Complete Lawyer adds ADR column, "The Human Factor", written by four mediators

The Human Factor a new column on ADR at The Complete LawyerThe Complete Lawyer — an online magazine covering professional development, quality of life, and career issues for attorneys published by Don Hutcheson — has added an ADR column, “The Human Factor“.

Written by me and three smart, savvy women I am honored to call my friends — Stephanie West Allen of Idealawg and Brains on Purpose, Gini Nelson of Engaging Conflicts, and Victoria Pynchon of Settle It Now Negotiation Blog — “The Human Factor” seeks to make ADR relevant to the work of lawyers today. The inspiration for the title of our column comes from pioneering legal reformer Dean Roscoe Pound, whose work presaged the rise of the alternative dispute resolution movement:

A century ago, Dean Roscoe Pound exhorted the legal profession to transform its institutions of justice and adjust its principles “to the human conditions they are to govern,” “putting the human factor in the central place.”

Located in different parts of the U.S., each of us offers a unique way of looking at ADR and its connection to law and justice, in particular what that connection means for the human factor — the individuals whose lives the law affects. In our first column, we introduce ourselves to readers and let them know what to expect from future issues.

Besides “The Human Factor”, there’s plenty more worth reading at the latest issue of The Complete Lawyer, which focuses on the question, “What Do Women Lawyers Really Want?” (I’m one, and I’m still not sure myself.) Find out the answers by visiting The Complete Lawyer now.

The Mediator Magazine: great online resource for the dispute resolution professional

The Mediator MagazineThe Mediator Magazine, published monthly, delivers news, profiles, columns, and polls dedicated to the art and practice of mediation. Although many of the articles focus on the work of mediators in the U.K., it holds a universal appeal, covering issues of concern to mediators regardless of where in the world they practice.

This month’s issue includes “Global Standards ‘Impossibly Cumbersome’”, a critical look at the efforts of the International Mediation Institute to establish a global mediator competency certification system; “Law-Law better than War-War?”, a discussion of the results of a Mediator Magazine poll that asked readers whether lawyers always make the best mediators; and “Craving Collapse”, which considers whether an economic downturn could be good news for mediators.

The Mediator Magazine is a flash-based site, so I’m not able to link directly to the articles cited here. You’ll need to visit the site yourself to access these and other articles. It’s just too bad this great online resource relies on flash and lacks an RSS feed or an email subscription service so that readers could be notified when new issues are published.

Nonetheless, The Mediator Magazine is worth a look and even a bookmark in your browser.

(With thanks to my friend across the Atlantic, Justin Patten, for alerting me and his other readers to this online publication.)

Premier ADR web site Mediate.com adds new feature with global focus

Mediate.com connects visitors with resources world-wideMediate.com, the world’s leading online resource for news, information, and bleeding-edge thinking in the field of ADR, has added a new feature.

Mediation Today highlights the importance of mediation, posting stories from around the globe that demonstrate the many ways in which men and women confront and address disputes — and the continuing relevance of the work that the conflict resolution field is engaged in.