Category Archives: Blogs and Bloggers

New owner sought for ADRblogs.com, online directory tracking ADR blogs world-wide

Passing the torch for ADRblogs.comAt ADRblogs.com, I have monitored blogs from around the globe that discuss alternative dispute resolution in its many manifestations.

Started three years ago, today the World Directory of ADR Blogs tracks over 220 blogs from 30 countries, bringing together the world of blogs covering mediation, arbitration, negotiation, conflict resolution, and people-focused innovations in justice and law. It’s been exhilarating to work on it, since it has helped me connect with people plane rides and time zones away who share a commit to resolve disputes through constructive and non-adversarial ways.

However, other projects beckon, and I no longer have the time to devote that an undertaking like this deserves. Consequently, I have decided to put the site up for sale.

If you’re interested in continuing my work, please get in touch for further details.

New and recommended: ADR blogs to add to your reading list

ADRblogs.comFrom time to time I select noteworthy blogs from recent additions to ADRblogs.com, the site tracking alternative dispute resolution blogs world-wide, and highlight them here. Here is my latest selection, four blogs that stand out in different ways:

Mediation Strategies, published by San Francisco mediator and lawyer Michael Carbone, discusses techniques for resolving civil lawsuits and other disputes, with recommendations to lawyers and clients on how to prepare for mediation. Carbone, who writes well, is off to an impressive start, with posts such as “Deciding when to mediate“, earning him a well-deserved place among Mediate.com‘s Featured Bloggers.

The Trial Warrior is published by Antonin Pribetic, a Toronto-based lawyer who specializes in domestic and international commercial litigation and arbitration. Pribetic is also an academic, teaching Advanced Legal Process at the University of Toronto at Mississauga-Rotman School of Management Diploma in Forensic & Investigative Accounting (DIFA) program. A gifted writer who brings keen-eyed analysis to his work, Pribetic describes the unique focus of this outstanding blog:

A few years ago, I picked up a copy of The Art of War—the classic Chinese treatise on military theory and Taoist philosophy—and experienced an epiphany after reading the following quote from Sun Tzu: “Strategy without tactics is the slowest route to victory. Tactics without strategy is the noise before defeat.” Since then, I have studied and applied The Art of War to both my professional and personal life. This blog will endeavour to lead rather than simply follow; to enlighten, inform and entertain, as well as to learn from its readers, contributors and warriors in all disciplines and walks of life.

Mediation’s Place, published by Joseph C. Markowitz, a trial lawyer and mediator based in Los Angeles, grapples with compelling questions:

How does mediation fit into a system of justice that seems antithetical to mediation? What changes need to be made to court procedures, and to litigants’ mindsets, in order to resolve issues by negotiation instead of by litigation? Why is mediation called a form of “alternative” dispute resolution? What makes mediation work?

New bloggers are often advised to focus their blog on a niche topic. Published by Florida firm Upchurch Watson White & Max, Wealth Mediation Blog does precisely that, focusing its posts on issues relevant to its client base, family businesses and families of wealth.

For additional blogs on alternative dispute resolution and negotiation, consider my recent list of top 24 ADR blogs.

Mediation Channel hacked: a cautionary tale about security, safety online

security onlineMediation Channel got hacked.

While I was enjoying a much-needed vacation earlier this summer, hackers broke into my WordPress-based sites, including this site and ADRblogs.com. They left no immediately detectable trace that alerted me like the first attack this blog sustained in April 2008. Instead, they buried spam injection link code deep in files on my site, which created links out to spam sites.

Unlike that first attack, these digital vandals did considerable damage. I only discovered their footprints by chance this past Friday, long after they’d broken in. I spent Labor Day weekend cleaning up after them and had to do a complete reinstall of WordPress and my site’s content. It was a wretched way to spend a long holiday weekend. (In fact, if you click here, you can see the special message I’d like to deliver to the scumbags who hacked my sites.)

I’m sharing my woes with you, readers, to remind you that nothing on the web is entirely secure. It doesn’t matter how well prepared you may be, what precautions you take, how careful you try to be. It doesn’t matter whether you blog or use Gmail, Twitter or Facebook. Nothing online is 100% safe. When even the New York Times, technology-savvy conflict resolution proponents, or well-known bloggers like Robert Scoble can get hacked, it’s only a matter of time before it happens to you.

I’m not going to repeat the already excellent advice that people like Lorelle on WordPress have offered. If you have a WordPress blog yourself, you should also read Matt Mullenweg’s tips on securing your WordPress installation. And Google Webmaster Central Blog recommends to site owners some best practices against hacking – advice which I urge everyone to heed.

But I’m going to emphasize two key points for those of you who lead part of your lives online. It boils down to two things: prevention and preparation.

Prevention.

First, do what you can to prevent an attack.  If you’re using WordPress, upgrade as soon as a new release of WordPress is available, since these new releases address vulnerabilities that hackers can exploit. If you’re using widgets or plugins to add functionality to a blog, obtain them from trusted sources only and update them as soon as new releases are available.  Use strong, unguessable passwords for all accounts, control panels, FTP, and email, and change those passwords regularly. (Here’s a link to ideas for choosing secure passwords.)

Log in regularly to blogs or social media accounts you’ve set up to make sure that no one has hacked into them. Avoid if you can simply abandoning your online accounts; failure to monitor them means that you’ll be the last to know if any of them gets hacked. For example, if you try Twitter and decide it’s not for you, delete your account or change your account settings to protect your updates from public view.

Monitor news about technology and social media by following some of the many excellent blogs out there so that you hear about security issues quickly. I’ve already mentioned Lorelle on WordPress for WordPress users, but also consider Mashable, which covers news about social media, Web Worker Daily, the New York Times Bits Blog, Ars Technica, or Lifehacker, which regularly discusses strategies for security online.

Preparation.

When it comes to online disasters, be as well prepared as you would be for real-world ones.  You must prepare because no prevention measures are 100% foolproof.  It doesn’t always matter how strong your passwords are, how conscientious you are about updating software, or how strong the security measures are that you take. Prepare as if disaster will certainly strike.

Prepare a list of all the online accounts and sites you have. Then go through that list and ensure that you have back-ups of everything you care about. (In the case of WordPress, back up your database and download copies of your files by FTP. Also download an XML backup of your posts from your WordPress admin panel.) It’s what kept my own recent brush with hackers from being the unmitigated disaster it might have been. Have a plan in place and everything that you need organized and at hand so that if the unthinkable happens, you’ll be ready.

Back-ups aren’t just for blogs by the way. You can back up your contacts and profile information on LinkedIn, or information on social media accounts like Twitter and Facebook. And definitely back up the contents of your hard drives – don’t forget about them.

* * * * * * * *

This is the dark side of social media. Be safe out there, friends. And be ready.

…make that 24 alternative dispute resolution blogs to follow…

correction!Yesterday I published a post recommending 21 ADR blogs to follow. I knew that as soon as I hit the “publish” button, I’d remember a few others to add.

I’ve amended the post to include three more worthy blogs. Go check it out.

Recommended reading: 24 alternative dispute resolution blogs to follow

ADRblogs.comRecently Mediator Blah…Blah…, one of my favorite ADR blogs, sadly ceased publication. I will miss friend and fellow blogger Geoff Sharp‘s intelligent, emotionally honest writing and wit.

Fortunately there are other blogs, written by talented, insightful practitioners, that can fill the void that Geoff’s absence has created. I have compiled a list of currently active blogs that I recommend to you, with a few words on why.

Creating a list like this was challenging, with so many worthy ADR blogs to choose from. I fear that some I may have inadvertently overlooked, and as I’ve written this post, I’ve had to change the number in the title several times.

I therefore invite you, gentle reader, to add your own recommendations in the comment section below.

Enduring Classics

These blogs have been around for quite a long time, in one form or another. The quality of their writing and the usefulness of the information they provide explain their longevity. They are:

  • Settle It Now Negotiation Law Blog, by Victoria Pynchon, contains consistently superb discussion and analysis of issues in negotiation, as well as unflinching self-honesty and debate on controversial issues.
  • Idealawg, by Stephanie West Allen, artfully weaves in discussion of law, conflict resolution, scientific discoveries, and creativity; will get your neurons firing.
  • Campus ADR Tech Blog, by technological wizard Bill Warters, consistently links to useful tools and resources for ADR practitioners, trainers, and educators. A long-time favorite of mine.
  • Making Mediation Your Day Job, by Tammy Lenski. Other ADR marketing “experts” have come and gone. To appreciate why Tammy’s site endures while others have long since faded away, visit the latest incarnation of her site helping mediators build successful practices.
  • PGP Mediation Blog, by Phyllis Pollack. Phyllis leaves the door to the mediation room open just a crack so you can listen in and learn from her experiences at the table.
  • CKA Mediation and Arbitration Blog, by Chris Annunziata. We all need a gutsy contrarian, someone willing to dispatch sacred cows or tell us when the emperor wears no clothes.  Chris pulls no punches, whether tackling lawsuit abuse or discussing practice issues that the mediator in Georgia faces – such as this recent post on the “deregistration” of a mediator by the Georgia Office of Dispute Resolution.

Global Perspectives

These are blogs that present views beyond U.S. borders. They enrich our understanding of conflict resolution and negotiation.

  • The Mediation Times, by Amanda Bucklow, U.K., addresses an international audience and seeks to expand the role of mediation to resolve disputes. (FYI, Amanda recently published the results of her own research on mediator skills and attributes.)
  • ICT for Peace, by Sanjana Hattotuwo, Sri Lanka. This outstanding blog explores the use of technology for conflict transformation and the critical role of citizen media in social justice.
  • MediAsian, by Ian Macduff, Singapore. Published by a relocated New Zealander – born in Malaysia, now living and working in Singapore – this blog discusses mediation and dispute resolution in Asia, including the role that culture plays.
  • Reporting on Conflict: Peacemakers Trust Media Watch Blog, edited by Catherine Morris, Canada. This blog rounds up news on dispute resolution, conflict transformation and peace building, gathered from sources around the world. Essential for anyone interested in following international news on conflict resolution.
  • Dialogic Mediation, by Arnold Zeman, Canada. This blog publishes less frequently than others, but quality not quantity matters. Consider for example, this illuminating article on transformative mediation, which got me to confront my own assumptions about this model of practice.

Newer Voices, Robust Discussion

These newer contributors have elevated the quality of discourse in the ADR blogosphere or have reinvigorated it with fresh ideas or new direction.

Specializations

These blogs focus on specialty areas in ADR.

  • Loree Reinsurance and Arbitration Law Forum, by Philip J.  Loree, Jr., contributor and editor.  This niche blog is distinguished by scholarly, sophisticated discussion and analysis of issues in reinsurance and commercial litigation and arbitration.
  • Disputing, by Victoria VanBuren, contributor and editor. Recently celebrating four years of blogging, Disputing focuses its writing on news and discussion on the resolution of commercial disputes through arbitration and mediation.
  • IP ADR Blog, by Eric van Ginkel, Les Weinstein, Victoria Pynchon, and Michael Young. Expect from this blog high-level analysis of issues involving the resolution of intellectual property disputes, including business strategy and tactics.
  • The Ombuds Blog, by Tom Kosakowski. An essential source for news and job postings for the ombudsman.
  • ADR Prof Blog, by Andrea Schneider, Michael Moffitt, Sarah Cole, Art Hinshaw, Jill Gross, and Cynthia Alkon. To the best of my knowledge, this is the only blog with a special focus on ADR teaching and scholarship. Don’t assume that its academic pedigree signifies starchiness and pretense; on the contrary. Expect to find relevant news, useful links, and sly humor, delivered in an admirably concise package.

Easy Listening

This is the one podcast among this group of blogs. It is always worth listening to.

  • International Dispute Negotiation, hosted by Michael McIlwrath and the International Institute for Conflict Resolution and Prevention (CPR). This high-quality podcast series featuring conversations with leading thinkers and practitioners with a global perspective on ADR. (I just wish that CPR would stop messing with the RSS settings for this podcast – I just discovered that the feed changed yet again, which meant that I missed learning of recent podcasts via my newsreader. Hint, hint.)

Unsung Heroes

These are blogs published by folks who consistently produce great writing but haven’t garnered the attention IMHO I think they merit. Here’s some link love for these deserving blogs:

Of course there are still roughly 200 other ADR blogs over at my other site, ADRblogs.com, which tracks and catalogs blogs from 30 countries across the globe.

For other outstanding blogs, see Mediate.com’s Featured Blogs page, or pay a visit to the world-wide gallery of ADR blogs at the web site of the International Mediation Institute.

Simply the best: good-bye to Geoff Sharp and Mediator Blah…Blah…

Safe trip, Geoff!Sad news today, friends.

One of the very best of the ADR bloggers is closing up shop.

Geoff Sharp has announced today that Mediator Blah…Blah… has ceased publication for now. Other projects beckon, and time with family matters. Geoff writes,

We’ve had fun, you and me. Thanks for reading, I remain grateful that you took the time.

We did indeed have fun, Geoff, and we are the ones who should say thanks.

Geoff wrote with honesty and straight from the heart, as posts such as “Rehearsing in poetry, practising in prose” will attest.

I’d been blogging for just under a year when I first met Geoff. His reflections on practice have been an important part of my online life for over three years, and I will miss him very much.

Best wishes, Geoff. Thanks for everything. And I’m really glad we’re friends.

Getting to yes with blogging: even the big guys can learn something about social media

The fable of the lion and the mouseSome of us in the dispute resolution blogosphere have noticed but perhaps have been too polite to say anything…that is, until now…

One of the major players in the negotiation world is blogging.

These folks may know a lot about negotiating…but it looks like they could use a little help getting to yes with their blog.

Just a suggestion…

Blogging isn’t about constant self-promotion. It’s not about continually plugging stuff you sell.

Instead…

It’s about conversation.

It’s about connecting with others.

It’s about sharing what you know.

Please let me share this: a post on six things effective dispute resolution bloggers do. If you need help removing that thorn from your paw, just give this mouse a shout.

Top 5 Tuesdays at National Arbitration Forum Blog this week highlights 5 new ADR bloggers

Top 5 TuesdaysMy long-time pals over at the National Arbitration Forum Blog have launched “Top 5 Tuesdays“, a terrific new feature to be hosted each week by a different member of the ADR community. They were nice enough to invite me to host this week’s edition, and I used it to showcase five blogs I’ve recently added to ADRBlogs.com, where I track blogs related to ADR, negotiation, and conflict resolution. These five blogs include Loree Reinsurance and Arbitration Forum and Disputing: Conversations about Dispute Resolution. I had a tough act to follow – the first contributor to Top 5 Tuesdays was ADR superstar Kenneth Cloke, who discussed “5 Reasons Why We Need to Mediate Environmental Disputes“.

If you’d like to participate and contribute to Top 5 Tuesdays, you can learn more about why Top 5 Tuesdays are a win-win for everyone – NAF Blog, its readers, and you. Enjoy.

Photo credit: Ruben Joye.

Please contact me…but kindly read this first if you need advice

please contact Mediation ChannelI’ve been blogging for over four years now. During that time I have gotten more emails than I could begin to count from readers asking for advice, looking for help, offering criticism or praise, passing along stuff they knew I’d enjoy, or just getting in touch to say hello. With only a few rare exceptions, I’ve enjoyed hearing from every one of them and have been happy to help when I can.

Your emails continue to come in, more so now than ever. So, to help us both, here are some things for you to know before you contact me.

If you have a conflict you’d like to resolve or you need help preparing for a negotiation or tough conversation…

Please get in touch. I’d be glad to take time to understand what you need and where you want to get to, and answer your questions about how you and I might work together. You can phone me, too, or Skype me.

If you are looking for legal advice…

I’m so sorry, but I can’t help you. Please contact and retain the services of a competent, licensed attorney admitted to practice in your jurisdiction who can give you the advice you need to help you with the decisions you’re facing. I wish you all the best.

If you are a blogger…

It’s always great to hear from a fellow blogger, particularly someone who’s new to blogging. Your fellow bloggers are here to help. If you haven’t done so yet, please read this post, “Just launched a dispute resolution blog? Here are 6 things effective bloggers do“. It contains advice that other bloggers gave me early on when I began blogging. If you have further questions, just give a shout.

If you want advice on becoming a mediator…

Before you contact me with any questions about becoming a mediator, I ask that you carefully read the following posts first, which address issues in mediation training, education, and career opportunities in the United States. They may answer your questions and save us both time:

I’d also suggest that you visit Making Mediation Your Day Job, a superb online resource on career and marketing for mediators by successful conflict resolution professional and educator Dr. Tammy Lenski. I highly recommend to you her book, Making Mediation Your Day Job: How to Market Your ADR Business Using Mediation Principles You Already Know.

If you have specific questions about becoming a mediator in your geographic location…

I practice in the U.S. If you want information on how to become a mediator elsewhere in the world, the best place to find it is to contact mediators in that country to learn about requirements for practice, as well as information about the market there for ADR services.

I practice in Massachusetts. If you want specific, detailed advice about practicing in some other state, I strongly urge you to get in touch with mediators in your area to find out what training, education, or other requirements would be necessary for you to succeed as a mediator there. Find professional membership organizations for mediators; they can be a good resource. Alternatively, visit the web site for the Association for Conflict Resolution where you can locate the regional chapter for your area.

If you’re having trouble finding someone to help you, let me know. I have contacts all over the U.S. and throughout the world. I’d be happy to help however I can.

If you are a recent graduate seeking mediation career advice or have just completed a mediation training…

Have you sought the advice and help of the career services office of your graduating institution? What about your professors? They should all be your starting point. If you haven’t done so already, get in touch with them and ask them for their advice. They’re there to help you.

Ditto for the organization that just trained you, if you have just completed a mediation training program. IMHO, any program worth its salt should be ready to answer your questions, be knowledgeable about issues involving careers in mediation, be prepared to help you take the next steps to continue your training and education as a mediator, and connect you with experienced mentors who can help you develop the capacity to mediate competently. (This is why I cannot emphasize enough the importance of thoroughly vetting any mediation training program before you invest your time and money. Too many training programs are happy to take your money and then send you on your way.)

If you are contemplating a degree program in dispute resolution and have questions about careers in that field…

Contact the career services office of that degree-granting institution. Ask them what their alumni are currently doing and what percentage have full-time employment in the field. Find out what kind of placement support will be available. Contact the faculty as well to ask for their views. If possible, request informational interviews with alumni to ask what they think and what advice they might give.  I can’t tell you whether getting a degree in dispute resolution or some other field makes sense for you; you might want to work with a career coach who can help you with those kinds of choices.

No matter what…

I take the time to personally respond to emails. If you contact me, I would appreciate it if you would be so kind as to acknowledge my reply and let me know that you received it. Sadly, people seem to forget that these days. Please remember that it’s a very small world and little things like that can make a difference. Build relationships wherever you can: it’s what mediation is about after all.

Thank you for taking the time to visit this blog. I appreciate all of my readers and look forward to hearing from you.

Just launched a dispute resolution blog? Here are 6 things effective bloggers do

ADR bloggingAs a blogger who’s been at this now for over four years, I have been fortunate enough to know first-hand the impact of blogging on the way ADR professionals practice.  As a social media tool, blogging has transformed the way I network, helping me forge ties around the world with dispute resolution professionals and others committed to changing the way people respond to conflict. Writing a blog has honed my thinking, and sharpened my ability to spot emerging trends and advances that have bearing on the work I do. And I read blogs myself for breaking news, incisive analysis, and links to content relevant to my practice. In fact, during the four years I’ve been blogging and avidly reading other blogs, I’ve learned, reflected, and deepened my understanding about mediation, conflict resolution, and negotiation more than I did in the nine years that preceded that.

As the webmaster for ADRblogs.com, a site that tracks blogs globally that discuss ADR and conflict resolution (which just celebrated its third anniversary by the way), I have seen quite a few ADR blogs come and go. Consequently I’ve gotten pretty good at predicting which ones will last and which will rapidly fade away into obscurity. The ones that thrive do so because their owners developed certain habits. If you have just launched a blog, or have been blogging for a while now without seeing your readership increase, you may be interested in these observations that I share here now – 6 things that effective conflict resolution bloggers do:

Create worthwhile content for readers. A blog provides you with the ability to share what you know, and there are many ways to do it. Recount a personal anecdote that illustrates how negotiation can work in the real world. Explain how you handled a difficult client.  Share what you learned from a student in the conflict resolution class you teach. Tell your readers about an inspiring book you’ve just finished or a web site that got you thinking. Pose a question to your readers and invite their ideas. Give your opinion and ask readers and other bloggers for their reaction. What to avoid: Flagrant self-promotion turns readers off. If all your posts do is pitch goods or services you sell, you’ll alienate not just readers but also fellow bloggers who otherwise might be happy to send readers your way. In addition, all too often I see new bloggers copy and paste in their entirety articles from other sources, without bothering to contribute their own observations or opinions to add value to the post. That’s okay once in a while but don’t make it a habit. Instead, let your own voice come through loud and clear.

Learn the lingo. Good news! There are really only a couple of words you need to know: “blog” and “post”.  “Blog” can be a verb or a noun. As a verb, “blog” means to compose and publish an entry (known as a “post”) on your blog,. As a noun, “blog” is what your entire blog is called. A “post” is an individual entry. Please do not call a “post” a “blog”; that’s a common newbie mistake. One other concept you should be familiar with is “RSS feed”. They’re like belly buttons – every blogger has one.  RSS feeds make it possible for people to subscribe to and read blogs easily, and your blog should already come equipped with one. Daniel Schwartz at Connecticut Employment Law Blog has written a brilliant explanation of RSS feeds – please read it. (Not to worry, there won’t be a quiz on this tomorrow.) (And thanks to Geoff Sharp for pointing it out.)

Remember to link to others – it’s called “social media” for a reason. Blogs are based on reciprocity; in fact, the currency of the blogosphere is links, inbound and outbound. Successful bloggers link out to other blogs and sites, sending readers away to good content. Outbound links in fact exude confidence, as well known blogger Brian Clark has written, and signal a willingness to engage in a robust exchange of ideas with fellow bloggers. Bloggers often respond by returning the favor and linking back. Inbound links  to your blog are vital, increasing its visibility and bringing new visitors to your site. Last summer I wrote a post reminding ADR bloggers of the importance of linking and the social side of bloggingplease read it. Even experienced bloggers sometimes overlook this; recently I was dismayed to notice that an ADR blogger discussed a post of mine but did not link to it. An oversight? Nope – this blogger simply does not link to others. Too bad – they’re devaluing their own blog in the process. Don’t let their mistake be yours: link regularly.

Give credit for others’ ideas. Blogging is like writing term papers in college: you have to credit your sources or you might be accused of plagiarism. If you write a post about an interesting article, news story, or web site that you learned of on someone else’s blog, give credit to that other blogger and – this is the really important part – link back to their post. Incidentally, linking back helps weave the web of conversation that blogging produces – your link back serves as a response to or a riff upon a thought or idea. Links get people talking.

Express appreciation. If another blogger says something nice about your blog on their blog or recommends you to their readers, write a comment to that post thanking them. Or send them an e-mail personally thanking them. Heck, do both. Better yet, return the favor, and blog about them. Make your mom proud.

If you screw up, apologize. I’ve done it. I bet you have, too. It’s not the end of the world. Take responsibility. Apologize. Fix it.

P.S. One other thing. If you do have a dispute resolution blog, tell other bloggers about it. Don’t keep it a secret. We’re here to help.