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Just Court ADR

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Posts Tagged ‘mediator standards’

What Makes a Mediator Effective? The Need for Empirical Evidence

Jennifer Shack, March 23rd, 2012

As a mediator, I was trained that particular actions I took during mediation would bring the parties closer to settlement in a facilitative process. As a researcher, I know that no one has proven what I was told to do is effective. As a field, we’ve examined the outcomes of mediation, but we haven’t examined empirically the reasons for those outcomes. Now, Gary Weiner, a mediator and administrator for an appellate mediation program, has proposed that we do just that. He has organized a mini-conference on research for the upcoming ABA Section of Dispute Resolution Annual Conference in April that is designed to get participants discussing the possibilities for researching the effectiveness of mediator behaviors.

In preparation for the mini-conference, Weiner has written a very lucid and thought provoking paper that outlines why he believes such research is necessary. He recognizes that gauging whether something is effective should depend on what the goals are. He sees the outline of those goals for each program as the first step in determining whether 1) mediation is effective and 2) what behaviors lead to its being effective. He then notes that research into the effectiveness of particular behaviors has been reliant on mediator self-evaluation or participant feedback, both of which are unreliable methods for assessing what happened in mediation and the causal connection between behavior and outcome, starting with settlement. He’s interested in devising other ways in which mediator behaviors can be empirically tested. Does providing an evaluation of the case really lead to settlement, or is something else the mediator is doing the causal factor?

Research in other fields, most notably psychology, provides promising evidence that mediator behavior can be examined empirically to discover what is effective. I’m looking forward to discussing the possibilities at the conference.  If you would like to weigh in before then, comment here or get in touch directly with Gary at

Mediator’s Defining Moment

Susan M. Yates, July 20th, 2010

There has been quite a bit of hubbub online about a message circulating from NAFCM’s (National Association for Community Mediation) executive director, Justin Corbett. The message, copied below, asks for input on a definition of “mediator” for the U.S. Department of Labor. It will be used “by the federal government, and will be accessible online for all those considering a career or a volunteer commitment as a mediator.”

I find it fascinating that we (in the mediation field) continue to have such a difficult time defining what we do. I understand that there is great concern about potentially excluding sectors of the field, but we really need to be able to get on the same page (even if we have multiple ideas on that page!) if we are going to be able to provide quality services. We may disagree on many things, but there is so much more that brings us together. (more…)

Florida Breaks New Ground in Mediator Standards

Jennifer Shack, April 6th, 2010

Former judges in Florida no longer can promote their mediation practice by using the title “Judge” or appearing in judge’s robes in advertisements. In amendments to the marketing rule of the “Florida Rules for Certified and Court-Appointed Mediators,” the Florida Supreme Court seeks to make sure that the “integrity of the judicial system” is not impugned by judges using the prestige of their former office to serve their own commercial interests.  The amendments go further in limiting what former judges (and arbitrators) may say by prohibiting any implication “that prior adjudicative experience makes one a better or more-qualified mediator.”

As this was the first time I’d heard of such a limitation, I searched the Research Library on for other standards in place around the U.S. It appears that only Florida mentions anything in their mediator standards about how judges may advertise their services. Am I right? Does anyone have other examples of this type of rule?

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