One of my welcome duties at the LEADR conference this week is to conduct a couple of interviews.
And I am doing this by a turbo charged video link, as you might expect from the 'Future Tech Stream Convener' (I do hope I get a name badge with that title).
Barring any technical snafus, I am looking forward to conversations with two of the movers and shakers of the DR world - with Mike Lind, Managing Director of ADR Group, Bristol in the UK and with Jim Melamed of Mediate.com, Eugene, Oregon.
They will be horrified at the prospect, but I want to highlight each of their contributions prior to speaking with them and ask you, dear readers, what questions or comments you have for them.
First, lets put the spotlight on Mike.
I met Mike in LA a few years back when we ended up in one of those awkward situations after unexpectedly being told to break into small groups at an ABA conference session. When we all sat and looked at each other, Mike rescued us and even volunteered for the short straw of 'reporting back' to the group.
The official blurb on Mike is that his;"... primary function is to raise the profile and spectre of the ADR Group as a leading provider of dispute resolution services. Working closely with over 450 ADR Group mediators, Mike is committed to ensuring the Group provides a first class service to parties in dispute, whether the subject matter is legal, commercial or matrimonial in origin. Mike plays a key communications role working with the Group company directors, senior management and all ADR Net members"
[But I know Mike to be an obsessive rugby fan who supports his native South African Springboks or the English team, which ever team has their nose in front at the time. And after the weekend it's certainly SA. No, strike that - actually Mike supports anyone playing against the mighty New Zealand All Blacks.
And, as I write this the 3rd largest sporting spectacle in the world, the 2007 Rugby World Cup is underway in France after four long years of waiting and both of us are glued to the TV]
When Mike and I Video Skyped last week to scope our interview I learnt how truly energetic his ADR Group really is.
ADR Group has a three prong mantra:
1.Teach - the broadest programme of dispute resolution training courses in the UK - from mediator accreditation to advanced dispute resolution courses.
2. Talk - consultancy and bespoke solutions for organisations requiring tailored dispute resolution services.
3. Resolve - cost-effective, professional dispute resolution for business, the workplace or the family.
When I asked Mike to focus on online dispute resolution he described how the Group is currently involved in these 3 projects, amongst others;
1. National Mediation Helpline was set up in 2005 by the UK Ministry of Justice in conjunction with the Civil Mediation Council to provide information about mediation and access to mediators. ADR Group, covering all 42 court regions in England and Wales, has played an instrumental role in the success of the Helpline to date. ADR Group has an average settlement rate of 75% compared to a Helpline average of 66%.
2. Online dispute resolution provider - Following a successful first phase, the leading online payment service, PayPal, have now contracted with TheMediationRoom.com and The ADR Group to run the second phase adjudication pilot for disputes on eBay transactions including retailer sales
3. Official Trade Visit to South Africa next month by the Lord Mayor of London - a project aimed at raising the level of awareness of commercial mediation in South Africa. Instead of going in through the conventional legal channels, ADR Group is linking in with the Lord Mayor of London's visit to SA which gives the Group access to the business and finance community and will give mediation the credibility it deserves. ADR Group will also be speaking with the SA legal profession - at the same time as the key business decision makers to encourage commercial mediation in SA.