Gini Nelson\’s Engaging Conflicts

July 20, 2006

Guest Rawle Andrews Jr, Esq.: The Future Of Mediation

Filed under: Attorneys and Mediators - No Conflict Here!,Ethics — Gini @ 6:36 am

Guest Rawle Andrews Jr., Esq. concludes his response to Guest David B. River’s first post about ethics and professional development in mediation. David is not an attorney and his questions for us include the respective roles of mediators and attorneys, and where the risks of unauthorized practice of law are for mediators who are not attorneys. Rawle is an attorney, who also mediates. His previous posts were “The Polar Extremes of Law and Justice“, and “Mediation Training & Ethics Must Be Conjoined.”

III. The Future of Mediation.

Mediation is here to stay. The perception of its effectiveness as a tool for resolving disputes, however, depends largely on whether the parties have confidence in the experience (i.e., the integrity of the process and the mediator). It is not hard to imagine the inherent tension between mediators who are not attorneys presiding over disputes involving two or more parties represented by counsel. Beyond the education divide, the elephant in the room is that the mediator might be experienced as a neutral but the prevailing perception is that the mediator’s sphere of reference is unduly limited because he/she never sat on the other side of the table as an advocate. Fortunately or unfortunately, no alternative degree plan or Law School certificate program will change this bias that exists, to some degree, even among lawyers & Judges given the constant furor surrounding U.S. News & World Report’s annual Law School Rankings.

Although the MDP issue is alive and well, perhaps the best way to grow and nurture mediation is for like-minded ADR proponents to abandon turf wars in favor of united advocacy for expanded use of the process. For example, regardless of pedigree, neither Mr. Rivers nor I question the other’s right to serve the public or motives for doing so. If Mr. River’s expertise, as a mediator who is not an attorney, can help people in need, we can ill afford to shelve those skills because of the “packaging” anymore than we should discount the value of lawyers from a process that can be used to reduce or streamline litigation and its attendant costs. Gini Nelson has provided one such forum to accomplish this result. Our challenge, as ADR proponents, is to use it so that best practices can be shared for the greater good. Anything else, as the television commercial says, would be uncivilized.

Best wishes,

Rawle

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