Comments: Non Attorney Mediators- Not Welcome?!?

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Chris  Sheesley, Portland OR  csheesley@inaccordnw.com     10/29/09
No More Sandbox Wars
I recognize your angst and once sang alongside in that same chorus of non-attorney mediators attempting to fend off the legal profession with our peace songs of process purity and professional fairness. Then I discovered a sentiment from Dr. Strangelove and "learned to stop worrying and love being a non-attorney mediator". Non-attorney mediators waste effort bemoaning the attorneys who invade “our” mediation sandbox. This way of thinking detracts from energies better spent finding venues where non-attorneys can thrive; which is to say nearly everywhere but in the court system to which you long to be admitted. With a keen glance around you are likely to discover that the sandbox which seems increasingly crowded by lawyers is sitting within a vast, unmolested desert. A step beyond the confines of this legal playpen will reveal a richness of opportunities awaiting your mediation talents. I'm saying this from my experience as a full-time, 19-year mediator. Beyond what is professionally prudent, there is simple job satisfaction. I have entered into arenas considered the purview of attorneys (e.g. court-connected programs, mediations with attorney-represented parties), and consistently come away with the crystalline understanding that haggle sessions over large sums of money and legal nuance is flatly unrewarding. So, travel far from the field of law that you most certainly chose not to enter when you selected a Master of Arts in Conflict Resolution over a Doctor of Jurisprudence. If you follow a less trodden path, then you will likely find a great place to build towering sandcastles.