Shows forms of dispute resolution and the thick line between mediation and arbitration

Law students are probably familiar with a diagram like the one above. It arranges different ways of resolving disputes according to how much say parties have in the outcome. Much as Felstiner and colleagues (1) famously described disputes being transformed into court cases through ‘naming, blaming and claiming,’ this graphic illustrates a parallel transformation in…

Graffiti commenting on truth and its usefulness today

I started mediating in my early 30s, surely old enough to know the difference between truth and fiction. Yet after a couple of years I began to say, first to myself then to my friends, that the concept of truth was ‘no longer useful’ in my work. What did I mean and how did I…

University of Strathclyde, host to Learning by Doing, mediation clinic conference

By the everyday miracle of Zoom, Carrie Menkel-Meadow spoke from her LA office to a Glasgow conference with a worldwide audience. Wrapping up ‘Learning by Doing,’ the UK’s first conference devoted to mediation clinics, her keynote described the inspiration for a whole career: a colleague in her legal aid office in the 1970s. While Carrie…

“I think the EU will need to move significantly on both those key points because they’re points of principle.” (Dominic Raab, UK Foreign Secretary, speaking on the BBC this morning) The Brexit negotiation, despite its dizzying stakes, has triggered a fair amount of wry humour. I’ve poked gentle fun at the protagonists myself: Brexit Irritators:…

What mediators do with words

‘The world is made, not found’ (W. Barnett Pearce) (1) I just spent an intensive weekend on Zoom with my students, helping them navigate their early steps into mediation practice. So much has changed. I have never met most of them face to face; we sit at home on our screens; there are no coffee…

I wrote this piece for Strathclyde Mediation Clinic after a series of conversations with new and learner mediators. Some surprised me with their passivity in the face of parties’ lack of knowledge or understanding. After some probing I learned that many new mediators recognise the problem but believe the model they were taught prohibits them…

The importance of gaze

‘Because you’re distant, forgive me for being a little bit bossy’ (Paddy O’Connell, BBC Radio 4’s Broadcasting House) After plying their trade for a while mediators (and broadcasters) develop a persona, not so much bolted on as inhabited. Once in ‘the chair,’ voice, posture and gestures all coalesce to support their purpose and, with minimal…

Do Black Lives Matter

“Racially discriminatory behavior may be reduced more effectively when racial issues are made salient rather than ignored or obscured.” (1) This week I’ve been thinking about white privilege. Ok, my white privilege. Like much of the planet I was horrified by the casual, almost routine asphyxiation of George Floyd. I wasn’t surprised by protest and…

Woman wearing facemask

‘He who would do good to another must do it in Minute Particulars’ (William Blake, Jerusalem) The coronavirus pandemic deals its cards very unevenly. Some individuals get it lightly, if at all, and even countries seem to be spared, at least for now. For others it’s a catastrophe. Here in the UK we watch, helpless,…

Stop apologising

(This blog is adapted from a longer version published by Prof John Lande as part of Theories of Change for the Dispute Resolution Movement: Actionable Ideas to Revitalize Our Movement. The Theory of Change symposium asked mediators and scholars to think big about their dreams and visions for the future, and was recently published on…