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Author Topic: MEDIATION  (Read 714 times)

wardwilliams

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MEDIATION
« on: December 17, 2006, 01:34:09 AM »
I am thinking about volunteering for the Mediation project at my school where law students act as nuetral third parties to help resolve common disputes between parties(such as assaults not involving personal injury, trespass, noise complaints, etc.) as an alternative to litigation.

Was wondering if anyone else here is a mediator and can tell me anything about their experience.

AtlAggie

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Re: MEDIATION
« Reply #1 on: December 17, 2006, 11:06:15 AM »
I'm a mediator. I received training through an externship program with my school, and have been mediating disputes all year (it's a court-connected mediation program). I recommend it if you get the chance--it's the best thing I've done so far in law school (I'm a 2L). First, you get the training paid for, which saves you a good bit of money, as it can be expensive. Also, if you're doing it through a school program, you'll likely get tons of experience. By the time I finish my program in the spring, I'll have meadiated approximately 200 disputes. You can't buy that kind of experience, and can take years to accumulate that many mediations outside of a court-connected program. It's also a great thing to be able to put on your resume, I think--the employers I interviewed with this fall all asked me extensively about the program, my experiences, and seemed to feel I'd be gaining valuable experience.  More and more, people are trying to resolve legal disputes via mediation and other ADR methods before litigating, and I think having some exposure to the mediation process will make you stand out as an applicant, if that's something that is important to you.

The best thing about it, in my view, is the fact that you get to interact with real people with real problems. You meet people from all walks of life, many with very real (and often very serious) problems, and it's your job to help them resolve their disputes if possible. It gets you out of the classroom, away from the books, and into situations where what you say and do can have a real effect on people. It's great practical experience. It's not always easy, but it teaches you a lot of valuable skills--patience, negotiation strategies, listening skills, dealing with highly emotional people while keeping your cool, etc. Plus you get to see a lot of lawyers in action--the good, the bad, and the ugly.  :)  It's educational, to say the least. You also see how the law impacts people in real life, and the ways it can be used/misused.

Hope that's helpful. If you have any specific questions, I'd be happy to answer them (you can PM me if you want, or post a reply, whatever).

orky13

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Re: MEDIATION
« Reply #2 on: December 17, 2006, 11:20:20 AM »
Any idea how one would go about finding a mediation externship program?
It comes to this: Cleveland Marshall, Lewis & Clark
Waitlisted: Case

wardwilliams

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Re: MEDIATION
« Reply #3 on: December 17, 2006, 12:51:49 PM »
I'm a mediator. I received training through an externship program with my school, and have been mediating disputes all year (it's a court-connected mediation program). I recommend it if you get the chance--it's the best thing I've done so far in law school (I'm a 2L). First, you get the training paid for, which saves you a good bit of money, as it can be expensive. Also, if you're doing it through a school program, you'll likely get tons of experience. By the time I finish my program in the spring, I'll have meadiated approximately 200 disputes. You can't buy that kind of experience, and can take years to accumulate that many mediations outside of a court-connected program. It's also a great thing to be able to put on your resume, I think--the employers I interviewed with this fall all asked me extensively about the program, my experiences, and seemed to feel I'd be gaining valuable experience.  More and more, people are trying to resolve legal disputes via mediation and other ADR methods before litigating, and I think having some exposure to the mediation process will make you stand out as an applicant, if that's something that is important to you.

The best thing about it, in my view, is the fact that you get to interact with real people with real problems. You meet people from all walks of life, many with very real (and often very serious) problems, and it's your job to help them resolve their disputes if possible. It gets you out of the classroom, away from the books, and into situations where what you say and do can have a real effect on people. It's great practical experience. It's not always easy, but it teaches you a lot of valuable skills--patience, negotiation strategies, listening skills, dealing with highly emotional people while keeping your cool, etc. Plus you get to see a lot of lawyers in action--the good, the bad, and the ugly.  :)  It's educational, to say the least. You also see how the law impacts people in real life, and the ways it can be used/misused.

Hope that's helpful. If you have any specific questions, I'd be happy to answer them (you can PM me if you want, or post a reply, whatever).



Good stuff....thanks for the reply.  How does the a typical dispute resolution work?  Do you as a mediator, listen to both sides and then offer advice and suggestions and then it is up to the parties to do decide whether they want to follow your suggestions?  Do your suggestions have any authority behind them?

AtlAggie

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Re: MEDIATION
« Reply #4 on: December 17, 2006, 01:18:58 PM »
Any idea how one would go about finding a mediation externship program?

Go to your school's externship/internship office (whatever your school calls it) and ask them if they have any ADR type programs. Maybe your career services office could tell you about any agencies they know of that have ADR training/experience, too. For example, our local office of the EEOC has a mediation unit, where I believe you can get similar experience (it's just not throuh the school, but through the EEOC instead).

AtlAggie

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Re: MEDIATION
« Reply #5 on: December 17, 2006, 01:36:17 PM »

Good stuff....thanks for the reply.  How does the a typical dispute resolution work?  Do you as a mediator, listen to both sides and then offer advice and suggestions and then it is up to the parties to do decide whether they want to follow your suggestions?  Do your suggestions have any authority behind them?

Just to be clear, mediation is different from other types of ADR procedures, like arbitration and other less-common forms of dispute resolution.

In mediation, the mediator serves as a neutral third party. There are several types of mediation, and the role of the mediator varies slightly depending on what sort of mediation your practicing. As a student and new mediator I would imagine you would probably be performaing facilitative mediation, which is a style where the mediator does NOT offer advice or suggestions to the party. In facilitative mediation, which is what I do, you are trying to get the parties to fashion their own resolution to the dispute, one that each party can live with. Ideally, they come up with the resolution on their own--you just help the process along through various techniques (but you generally stop short of suggesting your own solution to the dispute--and often this can be the hardest part of mediation, restraining yourself from imposing your ideas on the parties).

You do listen to both sides, but a main purpose to this sharing is to let the parties hear each other's concerns. It's important for you to hear them as well, but it's equally important (if not more so) for the parties to hear each other's perspectives about the dispute. It's surprising how often the parties have really never sat down and discussed their problems with each other before coming to mediation. 

The authority you have as a mediator stems from the fact that you control the mediation process. You control, to a large degree, when parties speak, if there will be separate individual sessions with the parties, what the ground rules for the mediation are, etc. You can also call a halt to the mediation at any time (although usually the parties can too).

If the parties do end up reaching an agreement, it's your job as a mediator to write the settlement agreement (a good exercise which will really help your legal writing) and the "test" the agreement to make sure it's going to hold up once the parties go home. You don't want the agreement to fall apart because the parties left some issue unaddressed, and that's part of your job. They'll just wind back up in mediation or in front of a judge, and that would really be on you as the mediator.

This is a good basic article explaining the 3 major types of mediation:
http://www.mediate.com/articles/zumeta.cfm

Hope that answers you question. :) Let me know if you have any others.

AtlAggie

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Re: MEDIATION
« Reply #6 on: December 17, 2006, 10:37:49 PM »
That exchange was awesome - thanks AtlAggie. Well done!

You're most welcome  :)