Charlie Irvine, May 2013
Charlie Irvine is a freelance mediation practitioner and teacher based in Glasgow, Scotland. He is Visiting Professor at Strathclyde Law School, leading the Masters programme in Mediation and Conflict Resolution. Charlie is a qualified lawyer with experience of business and management. He is also a former professional musician. He has written extensively on mediation, conflict and the law. In this article, which first appeared in February on the Kluwer Mediation Blog, Charlie asks the question: can a mediator have any style or does the style vary from situation to situation? Read the full article here: Style Wars.
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Gary Weiner, March 2013
Research into mediator quality is being given fresh impetus by the American Bar Association (ABA) Section of Dispute Resolution. The organisation is to host a lunch meeting that will start the process of outlining a research agenda into mediator quality. The event follows on from last year's successful 'conference within a conference', when leading practitioners like Ken Kressel, Dean Pruitt, Phillip Glenn, James Wall, Craig McEwen and Tania Sourdin came together to discuss the empirical study of mediation. The discussions were moderated by prominent mediator, arbitrator and attorney, Gary Weiner, and were informed by his 2012 paper, A Call For Evidence Based Standards For Mediator Quality. Speaking to Mediation Digest, Gary said:
'' I wrote the paper as a foundational document for last year's Conference in an attempt to stimulate debate. I've been fortunate enough to have been involved in the development of court connected mediation and in the practice of mediation over many years. I think it's vital that, as practitioners, we understand better how we best do the work we do".
Read the full document here: A Call For Evidence Based Standards For Mediator Quality
Comment on the article here.
Brendan Donaghy, February 2013
This is the fourth revision of The Mediator’s Handbook and the first one in 15 years. The book has been around in various guises for 30 years since it started life as a publication of the Friends Mediation Service in Philadelphia. Eileen Stief created the mediation programme of the Service in 1976 and at that time there was little in the way of mediation manuals available to the volunteers of the programme, or to the wider public. Intern Jennifer Beer sought to put this right in 1982 by creating the first Handbook and she has been at the helm as chief writer and editor of all subsequent revisions since then. This time she has worked for over two years with Caroline Packard and Joan Broadfield to produce a book they describe as ‘our long-simmering pot of soup’. So what shape’s the soup in when you lift the lid?
John Davitt, February 2013
In this challenging essay, law student John Davitt examines whether the legal profession has 'lost its soul'. He considers the idea that the human dignity dimension is missing in current versions of adversarial lawyering and argues that mediation has an important role to play in 'rehumanising' the legal system. Finally, he looks at the steps taken to promote mediation and asks if these steps risk undermining the very process they seek to champion.
John Davitt is a final year law student at the University of Limerick, with a particular interest in company and commercial law and Alternative Dispute Resolution processes. In the course of studying for his law degree, he has been the recipient of the University of Limerick President's Letter in respect of outstanding exam results. He has also completed a six month internship with Allianz Insurance PLC. John, along with a classmate, recently raised over €8,000 for Console, a suicide awareness charity, through a sponsored climb of Mount Kilimanjaro, Tanzania.
Read John's essay here: Mediation: Humanising the Legal System .
Comment on the article here.
Lorraine Schaffer, January 2013
This article raises two questions: why does theory matter and why is it sorely lacking from most mediation training in England?* These are linked to the status of mediation and how we are perceived; whether as a profession or as I would contend, not yet. National Family Mediation did some consumer research into what people thought about mediation and found that many people did not know what it was. When asked what they wanted to know, the credentials and qualifications of mediators were high on their list.Theory matters because it provides a language in which to communicate ideas, it matters because it offers a range of concepts, models, ways of thinking about conflict and conflict interventions. It matters because it stimulates informed discussion. Mediation training in England is process and skills led. It does not provide the kind of theory and knowledge base that is needed to underpin professional practice or to encourage innovations in practice. Mediators are supposed to be good at listening to opposing views. What about considering ideas which challenge how you see yourselves as mediators?
Ian McDonough, January 2013
Modern living, whether urban, suburban or rural is full of stress, and more and more people view their home as a place of escape or sanctuary. When this sanctuary is invaded, either by noise or other means, conflict will frequently result. Add to this the problems caused by much of modern building construction (inadequate soundproofing, poor estate design, space constraints), a sharp increase in the ownership of noisy domestic appliances, and a mobile society where people sometimes do not even know who their neighbours are, and we have an incendiary mixture which is bound to burst into flames on occasion. Community mediation is a frequently used and highly successful way of assisting neighbours and groups of people in neighbourhoods resolve a wide range of conflicts. Community mediation in Scotland has grown considerably in the last ten years, and there are now services covering almost the whole of the country, from large urban conurbations to the Highlands and Islands.
Brendan Donaghy, December 2012
Dramatic Problem Solving (DPS) is a systemic approach to conflict transformation through a series of simultaneously fun and serious exercises. So says Steven Hawkins, Founder and Director of DPS and author of this book. What he does not tell the reader, however, is that this model is not for the fainthearted practitioner-trainer. If you're the sort of person who dreads the introductions and icebreaker exercises in any training event, look away now. This is not the training model for you. On the other hand, if you're a bit of a 'thesp' at heart and thrive on role plays and throwing yourself about in the course of a training exercise, then lay on Macduff . This is your kind of thing.
Geoffrey Corry, November 2012
Between 1994 and 2007, I facilitated over fifty residential three day political dialogue workshops at the Glencree Centre for Reconciliation outside Dublin during the negotiation phase of the Northern Ireland peace process. This article describes the structure and methodology of the workshops at second track level and how politicians from all the political parties in Ireland and Britain arrived at new intergroup understandings and forged new political relationships. It identifies four layers of the interactive dialogue space and the role of the facilitator in shaping the dialogue over multiple encounters.
Brendan Donaghy, October 2012
Tony Whatling has written this book to fill a gap he identified in mediation-related literature. Whilst books on conflict theory, legal issues, and how to manage the mediation process and its stages abound, it is the author’s contention that there are but few works offering a ‘straightforward, comprehensive collection of mediator skills and strategies’. Whether he is correct in his assessment or not, there can be little doubt that mediation practitioners should be glad that he made it, for he has produced a fine book to plug the hole. The book may be a practical guide, but it is more than just a ‘how to’ manual. Whatling shares with the reader the assumptions and principles which inform his practice and his thinking. The first of these, and the one from which the book draws its title, is that strategy is the application of acquired skills. The book is a study of those skills and strategies the writer considers essential for effective mediating.
Michael Lang, September 2012
“Mr. Lang, my name is Chris Adams. I am a process server and have some papers for you.” With as much calm as I could muster, I asked, “what sort of papers?” He replied, “a subpoena.” And with that simple telephone conversation, the story begins. I’m aware that the law surrounding mediator confidentiality is different in Ireland and the UK than it is in Florida, nevertheless there are enough similarities to make this story relevant to practitioners in those jurisdictions.