For a while in the evolution of the ADR field, when two neutrals met they would sometimes ask what the other’s “profession of origin” was. What they meant was, “what did you do before you were a mediator?” There were some unspoken questions packed in there, too. They wanted to know, are you a full-time neutral or are you really from some other profession and trying to break into this one? And mostly I think they wanted to know, are you like me? Are you a lawyer, a therapist…?
I haven’t heard this question much recently. Maybe that is partly because ADR really is sinking into our society. Kids are mediating on playgrounds and deciding in college that they want to be mediators. Young adults are getting Masters Degrees in conflict resolution and looking to change the world. More people see mediation as their first career of choice, not the one they move to when they are tired of their original plan.
Even as conflict resolution increasingly becomes part of our everyday life, I would like to pay homage to a profession of origin that seems to be lost in the haze of ADR history. Thank you to the mediators and arbitrators who came from the labor relations field. (more…)