Category Archives: Events for Mediators

Connecting at the ABA Section on Dispute Resolution Spring Meeting

connecting to ADRSurmounted by an image of a righteous Old Testament god, the frieze above the entrance to the GE Building in New York City bears the words, “Wisdom and Knowledge shall be the stability of thy times“, chiseled into stone. Along with collegiality and connection, these were no doubt the objectives of those who attended last week’s 11th annual spring meeting of the American Bar Association’s Section on Dispute Resolution.

So how did it go?

Meeting long-distance friends and fellow bloggers – some of them for the very first time – was a welcome pleasure.  Waiting for ADR bloggers on the morning of the first day of the program was the personable Jim Melamed, co-founder of, the ADR world’s best known news and information resource. Bearing a tantalizing box of Krispy Kreme donuts was Jeff Thompson, who blogs at Enjoy Mediation and represents the face of the new generation of conflict resolution professionals. Jeff, a NYC police officer working in the Community Affairs Bureau and a Buddhist who has met the Dalai Lama twice, offered us a warm welcome to the city he lives and works in. Keep your eye on him, folks – he is one of tomorrow’s leaders. It’s people like Jeff who will be bringing change and new direction to the practice of mediation.

I got to reconnect with Wellington barrister and commercial mediator Geoff Sharp of Mediator Blah Blah, who was here in the Boston area for a conference about two or so years ago. Warm, wise, and even funnier in person than he is on his blog, Geoff is someone I count myself fortunate to call friend. (Good to see you, Geoff.) And meeting Settle It Now author Vickie Pynchon in person for the first time – after numerous emails, phone calls, and comments back and forth on each other’s blogs – was extraordinary. Perhaps more than anyone I know, she embodies the spirit of the best of the blogosphere – its mutuality, its neighborliness, its collegiality, its open and courageous engagement with ideas, its generosity.  As she writes, reflects and connects with her vast web of online social contacts, so, too, does she in person. Vickie is also the founder of the Professional Women’s Network of Southern California, open to those outside that geographic area.

Other bloggers I met included ADR pioneer Jeff Krivis, and Phyllis Pollack, a high-energy, hard-working Los Angeles attorney and mediator who writes the blog PGP Mediation, which discusses the dynamics at work at the mediation table. In addition to running a busy practice and publishing a blog, Phyllis also finds time to serve as president-elect of the Southern California Mediation Association.

Although I came for the programs, I primarily showed up for the schmoozing.  Besides meeting bloggers, the spring meeting was an extraordinary opportunity to get to know ADR professionals and scholars from all over the globe – to have impromptu discussions and conversations in meeting rooms, hallways, elevators, and over restaurant tables. It’s a reminder that no matter how wonderful social media may be, there is simply no substitute for face-to-face interaction in real time, right in the moment.

Those were among the positives – those things that made attending the event worthwhile. There were also glitches and disappointments, of which I will mention one now. I promised readers that I would be live blogging and Twittering from the event. I am glad that I thought to include the caveat that I would do so in the absence of technical difficulties. As it turned out, reliable wireless internet access was a big problem.  The hotel offered for-fee ethernet access in guest rooms (although those of us who were bunking with spouses or colleagues were charged for access for each laptop plugging in, rather than a single fee for the room) and free wifi in the lobby with only very limited and unreliable wifi in the conference meeting areas. This left disappointed bloggers like me who were planning on blogging live from plenaries and break-out sessions to bring the conversation to our readers unable to attend the event. I can only hope that organizers for next year’s conference will plan better for Web 2.0. This was a missed opportunity to make the most of the internet and bring the ABA Section on Dispute Resolution fully into the 21st century.

I’m already looking ahead to next year…

Meet ADR bloggers at ABA Section on Dispute Resolution Annual Spring Conference

The 11th Annual Spring Conference of the American Bar Association Section on Dispute Resolution gets underway this Thursday, April 16, in New York City.

ADR professionals and scholars from throughout the US and elsewhere around the globe will gather to explore this year’s theme, “ADR: Building Bridges to a Better Society“.

Several ADR bloggers will be there, including me, Vickie Pynchon (Settle It Now) Geoff Sharp (Mediator Blah Blah), Mediator Jeff (Enjoy Mediation), Jeff Krivis, Don Vanarelli, and the gang at National Arbitration Forum. (By the way, NAF is a platinum sponsor of the conference.)

I’ll also be live blogging and Twittering the event (fingers crossed against technical difficulties), so if you can’t make it to the Big Apple yourself this week, bloggers like me will be able to keep you informed about what’s going on. Of course if you’re planning to attend, please be sure to track me down and say hi.

Safe travels to those who are coming, and hope to see you there!

Photo credit: Svilen Mushkatov.

Mediation Train the Trainer Institute held in Boston Feb. 26-27, 2009

Mediation Train the Trainer Institute BostonIf you’re an experienced mediator who wants to master the essentials of effective mediation training, please join me in Boston for the Mediation Works Incorporated Train the Trainer Institute, on Thursday, February 26 and Friday, February 27, 2009.

I’ll be teaming up with mediator, trainer, and ombuds Charles Doran, MWI’s executive director. This program covers:

  • Program Design and Marketing – How to define and meet the needs of participants; staying focused on goals and outcomes; the logistics of putting on a successful training; programmatic and administrative issues; internal and external program promotion; translating experience into basic concepts that trainees can internalize and practice; delegating pre- and post-training responsibilities within the training team; designing and analyzing diagnostic forms.
  • Delivery – Presenting concepts with impact; selecting and using different delivery media; how to be a facilitator, leader, coordinator (all at the same time); setting up the room; facilitating skill-building exercises; fostering group participation and self-reflection; coaching role-plays and providing feedback to trainees; dealing with difficult participants.
  • Evaluation and Follow-up – Designing effective feedback and evaluation methodologies; delivering feedback to participants during and after the program; incorporating lessons learned into future programs; and more.

The highly interactive, hands-on program will be held at the historic Union Club on Boston’s Beacon Hill, at 8 Park Street.

Registration and more information is available at the MWI web site. I hope to see you there.

Intuition and Creativity Workshop on June 24 with mediation pioneer Albie Davis

On Tuesday, June 24, 2008, influential thinker and ADR pioneer Albie Davis presents an “Intuition and Creativity Workshop” for mediators at Suffolk University Law School in Boston.

Albie enjoys a well-deserved reputation as a true innovator who has made significant contributions to the development and advancement of mediation and conflict resolution during the course of her decades-long career.

From the workshop description:

You tune up your car every few thousand miles. Schedule annual health exams. Is it time for an Intuition and Creativity Tune-up of your mediator readiness? Mediators must think on their feet; use the famed five senses, plus ones with no name; make rapid assessments of the need of parties and momentum of negotiations; be on the lookout for “magical moments,” draw upon theory, research, ethics and personal practice; separate the wheat from the chaff; and more. In this day-long seminar, we will revisit various theories about mediation, negotiation, creativity, change, culture and human behavior. Drawing upon the experience of presenters and participants, we’ll role-play, invent and try new things; be irreverent, if we must. Each person will leave with a self-administered intuition checkup sheet with strengths identified and tips for improving one’s personal best.

I am proud to say that Albie Davis recently joined my firm, OptionBridge, as an affiliate, and my partners and I are deeply honored to be able to offer this program to our colleagues in the mediation community in June. To register, visit the OptionBridge web site, or for more information click here to download the flyer in PDF.

10th Annual ODR Cyberweek held October 15-19, 2007

10th annual Cyberweek National Center for Technology and Dispute Resolution together with is hosting the 10th Annual ODR Cyberweek, an all-online conference exploring the application of technology to dispute resolution and beyond.
Registration is free for the synchronous and asynchronous events which anyone with a computer and an internet connection can participate in. The program is still under development but further details will be available soon.

Technophobes, have no fear: Cyberweek events are attended by friendly, knowledgeable people from all over the world who are always glad to answer questions. (Good rule of thumb: the only dumb question is the one you don’t ask.)

If you’re at all curious to explore the crossroads of digital technology and human interaction, and want to discover innovative ways to resolve disputes and build better access to justice, then by all means join in.

Best of all, you can catch a glimpse of familiar faces in the crowd: watch out for Vickie Pynchon, Gini Nelson, Geoff Sharp, Colin Rule, Robert Ambrogi, and me, just to name a few.

Attention mediators: proposals still sought for April 2008 conference of the Dispute Resolution Section of the ABA

Proposals sought for ABA Section on Dispute Resolution conference in Spring 2008The Dispute Resolution Section of the American Bar Association (ABA) and the NW Dispute Resolution Conference will be presenting the Tenth Annual Section of Dispute Resolution Spring Conference on April 3-5, 2008 at the Seattle Sheraton Hotel, Seattle, WA.

Although the official date for proposals has passed, RFPs are still being sought. The closing date has been extended through Wednesday, September 19, 2007. Please consider submitting a proposal for this conference, which presents a great opportunity to meet and network with fellow ADR professionals, as well as to share your ideas and experiences with a broad audience.

The Conference Committee is particularly interested in receiving proposals in specialized contexts such as business, health care, insurance, entertainment, intellectual property, contruction, etc. Also of great interest are proposals in the areas of Practice Diversity and Development, Representing Clients in ADR, Government Public Policy, and Environment. Finally, interactive, skill-based workshops are being sought in the Family, Youth, and Community tracks, as well as others.

The ABA site for submitting proposals online is now closed, but it can still be done via email. Interested applicants should contact Nancy Highness at 206.399.1805 for further

By all means, please pass this information to others who might be interested.

The Conference Planning Committee asks me to pass along their appreciation!

Upcoming ADR events in New England: Workshops, trainings, and a conference

Summer ADR events in New EnglandAlthough summer is a time when we New Englanders like to kick back and enjoy the natural attractions for which our region is known, there are plenty of events coming up that may lure ADR practitioners from the beach or the hiking trail. In no particular order they are:

STAYING OUT OF TROUBLE: Ethics and etiquette rules for conflict resolution bloggers

How ADR bloggers can stay on the right side of etiquette and ethics rulesYesterday I posted about the benefits of blogging for ADR professionals. What’s not to like about a marketing and communication tool that’s absolutely free and rewards you generously for your efforts?

That’s the message that Robert Ambrogi, Dina Beach Lynch, and I are hoping to get across at tomorrow’s Annual Regional Conference for the New England Chapter of the Association for Conflict Resolution as part of the workshop we’re leading on blogging.

However, while basically anyone with an Internet connection and a computer can publish a blog, maintaining a blog is serious business. It requires a commitment of time and a willingness to blog regularly. It demands a high level of personal integrity (actually no different from what our own ethical rules demand of us as practitioners), since honesty and credibility count just as much on the Internet as they do in face-to-face interactions.

Creating an authentic and compelling voice is critical to any blogger’s success. As blogger T.L. Pakii Pierce observed on his blog “Blogging for Fun and Profit”, blogging’s effectiveness depends upon the blogger’s ability to build relationship with his or her readers:

Blogs will amplify your message and your reach in a powerful way and at near zero cost when compared to other means of reaching a market with your message. But the price of relationship is the need to continually connect with your market and develop your social network in order to build an authentic and authoritative voice that can be trusted.

Those are wise words indeed.

Staying authentic and real is important. But there are other concerns bloggers should pay attention to. Blogging can land you in all kinds of trouble, and bloggers have been known to lose their jobs because of something they posted, incurred the wrath of other bloggers by failing to observe proper webiquette, or risked violating copyright laws.

To help you stay on the right side of the law (and on the good side of your fellow bloggers) as you begin your adventures in blogging, I offer the following suggestions to my friends in the ADR community (and when in doubt, consult an attorney—this is not intended to be legal advice—I’m speaking as a blogger, not a lawyer):


As practitioners know, model standards abound which define for us the boundaries of appropriate conduct. Be aware that blogging may be considered a form of commercial speech or advertising, so rules for ADR practitioners regarding advertising and solicitation could well apply.

If you are a member of another profession as well, such as the law, you should consult with the standards of conduct for that profession, too, since those codes of conduct may come into play for you as well.

In addition, although there is (yet) no formal blogger code of ethics, some people have made the case that as citizen journalists, responsible bloggers should conduct themselves within an ethical framework. has proposed a “Bloggers’ Code of Ethics” which emphasizes honesty and accountability.

You should definitely read what Rebecca Blood has to say on the subject of blogger ethics. Click here for her insights. (For those of you who haven’t yet heard of her, if blogging had a Mount Rushmore, Rebecca Blood’s face would be carved into it. An influential figure in the blogosphere, Rebecca was an early pioneer of blogging.)


A few months ago my local paper, the Boston Globe, reported on a practice among bloggers who hawk products or services for businesses without disclosing to their readers that they’re getting paid for doing so. Bloggers need to understand the risks they run when they do this—including the possibility of losing the trust of readers if the compensation comes to light.

My advice to you? Don’t do this.


Generally speaking, blogging is a safe activity but not without its risks. Blogging could conceivably get you fired from your job, sued for violating defamation or copyright laws, or even subpoenaed to reveal your news sources. To keep you out of trouble, there’s help available online for bloggers.

One of the best resources for bloggers and other citizen journalists is the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF). EFF publishes a Legal Guide for Bloggers.

Another great resource can be found at the excellent Reporters Without Borders web site, which offers for downloading in PDF format its Handbook for Bloggers and Cyber-Dissidents.


In addition to staying out of legal trouble, you also want to stay on the good side of your fellow bloggers and your readers, too. There are some basic etiquette rules that responsible bloggers should observe.

Based on my own experience, I would say that at the top on your list of things to avoid is taking credit for someone else’s ideas. The same rules apply to blogging as they did to your college term papers: don’t plagiarize. Someone did this to me, and, boy, did it make me mad. Bloggers work hard to research and write their posts, and they don’t appreciate it when someone else tries to take the credit for their efforts.

In addition, I can’t overemphasize how important it is to do the following before posting: 1) check your facts; 2) correct any grammar and spelling mistakes; and, most importantly, 3) make sure all the links in your post work–please don’t frustrate your readers by including expired or malfunctioning links.

Finally, if another blogger says something nice about your blog, send them an e-mail personally thanking them. Better yet, if you can, return the favor, and blog about them.

Your mother will be proud.


One of the scourges of the blogging world is the rise of the “splog”, a spam blog created to promote the author’s other web sites and draw visitors.

As this article from the Wall Street Journal explains,

Spammers have created millions of Web logs to promote everything from gambling Web sites to pornography. The spam blogs — known as “splogs” — often contain gibberish, and are full of links to other Web sites spammers are trying to promote. Because search engines like those of Google Inc., Microsoft Corp. and Yahoo Inc. base their rankings of Web sites, in part, on how many other Web sites link to them, the splogs can help artificially inflate a site’s popularity. Some of the phony blogs also carry advertisements, which generate a few cents for the splog’s owner each time they are clicked on.

(Thanks to the blog beSpacific for the links on splogging.)

I am embarrassed to say that I have actually encountered some mediation splogs out there. All I can say is: don’t. Do your part to keep the Internet litter-free.


Finally, if you do decide to launch a blog, don’t keep it under your hat. Tell the world. Me, included. I’ve been maintaining a kind of informal census of ADR-related blogs, so let me know so I can add you to my list. And join the ADR Web Ring, maintained by myself and my pal and fellow blogger Dina Beach Lynch, to increase your blog’s visibility on the web.

Anyway, best of luck–hope to see you around the bloggerhood!


Preventing violence among teens and children This week is National Youth Violence Prevention Week, sponsored by the Association for Conflict Resolution. The goal of this “web-based initiative” is “educat[ing] students, teachers, school administrators, counselors, school resource officers, school staff, parents and the public on ways to reduce and prevent youth violence.”

Each day of the initiative focuses upon a different topic: Day One addresses respect and tolerance; Day Two, anger management; Day Three, the use of peaceful means to resolve conflict; Day Four, safety concerns; and Day Five, unity.

Although this initiative takes place this week, educators, students, parents, and communities can continue to work together the remaining 51 weeks out of the year to further the goals of National Youth Violence Prevention Week. Its web site provides plenty of inspiration and ideas.

For more information, or to find out what you can do to address violence among children and teens, please visit


On May 19-21, 2005, Capital University Law School in Columbus, Ohio, is hosting the Second National Conference of Minority Professionals in Alternative Dispute Resolution: Promoting Opportunities for Minorities in ADR. Pre-conference trainings will be held on May 18, 2005, at the New Center for Professional Development at Capital University.

Keynote speakers are the Honorable Michael L. Douglas of the Supreme Court of Nevada, the first African-American to serve on Nevada’s highest court, and Donna A.M. Parchment, the Chief Executive Officer of the Dispute Resolution Foundation in Kingston, Jamaica, and a leader in the Commonwealth Caribbean ADR field.

Conference workshops include:

  • Designing and Implementing ADR Programs in Corporate America: Opportunities for ADR Professionals
  • Mediation in an International Multi-Cultural Environment: Lessons Learned from the World Bank Group
  • Confronting Barriers in Operating a Minority ADR Firm
  • African-American Scholars and Practitioners in the Field of Conflict Resolution/ADR: Preliminary Research Findings
  • Wisdom From Our Elders: Oglala Lakota Perspective

For information or to register, visit