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My Last Word On The ABA Conference

by Geoff Sharp
May 2009

From the blog mediator blah...blah...

Geoff Sharp

Having put some distance between me and the ABA spring get-together the other week in New York, I am left with a slight hangover.

Not because of nights out on Broadway at God of Carnage or Billy Elliot, or that $25 whiskey sour on top of the Rockefeller Centre or even slugging pints of Brooklyn Brown downtown with Jeff Thompson.

I mean, there may have been some gold nuggets buried deep inside the conference program but, for the most part dear reader, I did not find them. Rightly or wrongly the ABA Dispute Resolution Section annual conference has become a leading gathering of global mediators and I expected more than I found there.

The usual masters of mediation were in attendance, some finding new ways of saying old stuff and some, in at least one plenary I attended, being content just to phone it in.

Now, this blog likes to be opinionated, not outspoken - but I do believe I voice the concern of many. The program was tired and some presenters had no business being at the front of the room.

For instance, if I decide to invest 1.5 hours in a session on starting a mediation practice I expect to hear from people who have actually started their own mediation business, and learn more from them than 'get a good website'.

I also want to be challenged, I want to hear what's around the corner, what's ahead of the curve - why was there not one paper on what Web 2.0 means for mediators? I know one was offered.

It's time for the ABA Dispute Resolution Section to re-evaluate it's conference format and content - maybe less is more as mediation matures and the need for mediation 101 primer sessions diminish.

And maybe, just maybe, lose those cheap boxed lunches.

Biography


Geoff Sharp is a Commercial Mediator from Wellington, New Zealand. Geoff works in the Asia Pacific region, including New Zealand, Malaysia, Thailand and Pacific Islands. He is a mediator resolving business problems. He is a fellow of the International Academy of Mediators and mediates complex and hotly debated litigation covering a wide range of subject matter from insurance disputes to historic sexual abuse claims.

Geoff is author of the award winning blog mediator blah...blah... a mediation blog experiment in reflective practice and the Mediation vBlog Project, a kind of mediation genome project by video blog.



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Website: www.geoffsharp.co.nz

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