Building upon the foundation established over recent decades, The Mediation Futures Project will gather and report upon our best thinking about the future of the mediation field and mediation practice.
The Future of Community Mediation

Community Articles

Reclaiming Mediation’s Future: Getting Over the Intoxication of Expertise, Re-Focusing on Party Self-Determination

(11/22/16)Robert A. Baruch Bush, Joseph P. Folger

For us and the colleagues we’ve worked with for many years, our first premise has always been that self-determination, or what we call empowerment, is the central and supreme value of mediation – a premise probably shared by many in the field.

Maria Volpe

Mediation in the Future of Policing

(11/08/16)Maria Volpe

The future of policing must incorporate mediation. No other profession places its practitioners more in the middle of challenging situations; police officers are regularly expected to make difficult conversations work on the spot.

Nina Meierding

Looking to the Future: Is There Still A Place For Proactive, Early Intervention Mediation in Our Changing Field?

(10/17/16)Nina Meierding

The author is hopeful that mediators, participants, and attorneys will re-examine the trend of late intervention, lawyer-centric mediation and bring pro-active, early mediation back as one of the important focuses of the mediation field.

Richard Barbieri

The Future of Mediation: Changing the Default of Fault

(7/21/15)Richard Barbieri

Will the future of mediation be, as Woody Allen remarked, “much like the present, only longer”? Given what we know about human nature, systems, and the resistance of each to change, that’s perhaps the safest prediction. But it’s also a less than hopeful prognosis, because mediation has much to offer the future, far more than it has achieved at present.

Stephen Erickson

Where We Have Been, Where We Are, and the Road That Lies Ahead

(5/11/15)Stephen Erickson

Looking back as one of the early professional family Mediators, I believe we are a movement developed out of reaction to the excesses and misadventures of the way divorce was practiced in the early 1970s. Most of the early pioneers I worked with turned to divorce mediation out of frustration with the negative results of adversarial litigated divorce.

Stacy Roberts

Getting on the Same Page Regarding Mediation in the Future

(4/20/15)Stacy Roberts

I agree with many other colleagues that going forward there should be a focus on public awareness, the training and licensing of mediators, but also, and maybe most importantly, the training of attorneys who will be using mediation. I say this because mediation is used when there is a dispute, so we know that litigation and mediation will almost always go hand in hand, and will therefore, almost always involve attorneys. So bear with me as I discuss the rationale for this thought process on the future of mediation and two recent observations that have led me to this conclusion.

Michelle LeBaron

Bodies at Work: Moving Toward Alchemy

(4/10/15)Michelle LeBaron

The single most neglected truism in mediation, whether virtual or in person, is that it does not happen without bodies. We do not mediate with beings in other realms (unless we attach a very different meaning to mediation than is contemplated in this collection of articles on the future of our craft). Thus involving those with current corporeal substance, we mobilize to engage and reach toward understanding while literally standing our ground.

Jeffrey Krivis

Where Have All The Idealists Gone? Long Time Passing, Part II

(4/03/15)Jeffrey Krivis

Over the years, a common theme heard among litigators after a grueling case where one side loses is that there must be a better way to manage disputes. In the mid -1970s, legal scholars from around the nation came together to review ways to make the legal process more user-friendly and accessible. They concluded, among other things, that a multi-door courthouse with processes that were designed to fit the forum to the dispute might be worth considering.

Mediation Styles

(3/30/15)Tony Belak, William Hymes

Conflict is not unique to humans, but it can be said that the involvement of third parties in conflict, for better or worse, is a distinctly human activity and it has been around since Man began speaking and walking erect. Given this history, it is unsurprising that over time, innumerable styles, techniques and customs have come into play, and it is further unsurprising that the relative merits, and applicability of of these techniques have become the topic of scrutiny, study and academic debate.

Jeffrey Krivis

Where Have All The Idealists Gone? Long Time Passing

(3/21/15)Jeffrey Krivis

A recent discussion among a seasoned group of neutrals about the struggles of the professional mediator caught my eye. Some complained that the trend in litigated cases was to reduce the value of the mediator to a commodity, due to the constraints put on them by the litigants who were not process oriented.

Ian MacDuff

Access to Mediation: Future Mediators

(3/12/15)Ian MacDuff

Much of the focus of the previous papers in this fascinating series on the future of mediation have, understandably, been on just that topic - that is, what will, or should, mediation look like. The questions asked have been both exercises in reflection on where we’ve been (after all, the best way to anticipate the future is to understand the past), on the coherence or not of the profession, the risk of our having been distracted from the core values and value of mediation, and - in the end - questions about what mediation really is and what we as mediators really do.

Leslie Short

Shaking My Magic 8 Ball Looking Into the Future of Mediation

(3/03/15)Leslie Short

I have shaken my magic 8 ball and it landed on Conflict Coaching. Some of you may say nothing “futuristic” about that I've been doing that for years. I believe it may be used in private practice, but not in community centers.

Laurie Israel

Where Does Marital Mediation Fit In?

(3/02/15)Laurie Israel

During the past quarter century, academics and others writing about mediation have characterized styles of mediation as belonging to one of three categories: “facilitative,” “evaluative,” and “transformative”. The categories are quite clearly defined.

Mediation and the Black Belt Lawyer

(3/01/15)Andrea Maia, Juliana Loss de Andrade

The symbolism of the term ‘’black belt’’ may lead us in the first place to its meaning in the martial arts field, especially when you had your childhood influenced by the lessons from Mr. Miyagi and Daniel San’s hard path in Karate Kid. Comparatively, but differently from the Karate world, our corporate environment also has “black belts” who rely on knowledge, discipline and wisdom.

J Anthony Licciardello

Revolution Calling

(2/27/15)J Anthony Licciardello

The Need For Increased Coordination Among Divorce Professionals: The divorce experience starts early...perhaps in the therapists office and the Wednesday reading group where the decision is made...quietly... to move on. And once the papers are signed there are months of recovery, both financial and psychological, until a sense of "normal" is achieved. The whole process can take several years from start to finish, and involves a host of professionals. So it is no small surprise that the outcomes are varied and often poor.

Jan Frankel Schau

Time Traveling

(2/25/15)Jan Frankel Schau

Litigation and mediation need to change in the future. People have new expectations about interacting with professionals, and the wise mediator will make note of these changes and incorporate these new trends in their practice.

Greg Rooney

Rebooting Mediation by Detaching from the Illusions of Neutrality, Just Outcomes, and Balanced Power

(2/23/15)Greg Rooney

I would submit that the next quantum leap for the theory and practice of mediation is to detach from the concept of neutrality as a core element of mediation practice. I propose to reboot the profession of mediation by championing the proposition that mediators are not neutrals. That they bring their own personal history and professional expertise to the process of assisting parties who are in dispute.

Donal O’Reardon

The Transpersonal is the Future of Mediation

(2/04/15)Donal O’Reardon

The future of mediation and conflict resolution is the transpersonal. “Transpersonal” means a view of the person as more than their conscious mind.

Michelle Brenner

Mediation Past, Present, and Future….

(2/02/15)Michelle Brenner

Mediation has been part of the story of mankind. The word mediation may be part of the 20th century English vocabulary, but the meaning behind it has roots and seeds that have been developed as long as mankind has existed.

Kenneth Cloke

The Future of Mediation: Toward a Conflict Revolution

(1/18/15)Kenneth Cloke

We evolve, not only as individuals, but as couples, families, groups, organizations, societies, economies and polities, both in the nature of our conflicts and in our approaches to resolution, moving from simple to more complex, nuanced and skillful forms. But in order to evolve, it is necessary for us not merely to settle or resolve the particular conflict we are facing, but also its hidden coda, essential nature, or binding principle, by learning the secret lesson it took place in order to teach us.

John Sturrock

Hope for The Future of Mediation Internationally

(1/13/15)John Sturrock

My own work has taken me into the legislatures of many of the assemblies and parliaments in the countries of the United Kingdom to train and coach members in “scrutiny skills”. I believe that many politicians do understand the real value of this training at an individual level. I believe that they wish to move away from the time-consuming, energy-depleting, morale-sapping and often futile game of positional politics. They sense that this change is what their constituents want too.

Art Hinshaw

ADR as a First Career

(9/05/14)Art Hinshaw

There has been a lot of discussion on DR list serves about the next generation of ADR professionals, practitioners and academics. For recent graduates interested in pursuing a career in ADR, the advice they often receive is to first practice law or gain experience in another field before transitioning to ADR as a 2nd (or even 3rd) career. I assume this advice stems from the personal experience of those giving it – as this was the career path of ADR’s founding generation. But is this necessarily the narrative for our next generation?

Brad Heckman

Mediation and Mindfully Getting in the Middle (Redux) - Video

(8/26/14)Brad Heckman

In this insightful talk, Brad Heckman discusses mindfulness in conflict mediation. Using poignant humor and his own hand-drawn illustrations, Heckman effectively communicates the necessary balance of emotions, relief and reflection that mindfulness supports in the mediation process.

Charlie Irvine

Mind the Gap: Mediation and Justice

(7/25/14)Charlie Irvine

This article examines the alleged gap between mediation and justice. It considers ideas of both substantive and procedural justice and examines persistent critiques of mediation as falling short of the supposed gold standard of litigation. It goes on to propose an alternative reading of mediation as a site where parties are empowered to negotiate not only the outcome of their dispute but the criteria by which that outcome is judged. This can be read as providing more rather then less justice, particularly in diverse societies where legal and social norms are contested.

Don Cripe

Are More Changes Afoot? Mediation Trends in 2014

(1/02/14)Don Cripe

Personal injury law is far more complicated in application than many people might believe. The title of this piece is thus phrased as a question because… frankly… I don’t know the answer. This article discusses the future of the mediation field.

Uma Ramanathan

Solutions and Future Plans of Mediation as an ADR Method

(12/27/13)Uma Ramanathan

Mediation in our country is no more a toddler. It has started to have an identity and it is time that we devise a cohesive plan for the growth of mediation in a manner that would allow cohesion among the stakeholders in the process. Changing the mind set of all concerned is now essential to take stock of where mediation is heading and what is to be done.

Matthew Phillips

NAFCM Releases the 2013 State of Community Mediation Report Supplement

(11/26/13)Matthew Phillips

On October 25, the National Association for Community Mediation (NAFCM) will release its 2013 State of Community Mediation Report Supplement to its membership. Building upon the groundbreaking 2011 report, the State of Community Mediation 2013 focuses in on inspiring, concrete examples of where community mediation has grown during tough economic times. The report provides a rare, inside look at successful community mediation centers from diverse geographic locations and center sizes. The report will be made available to the public on December 3, 2013 on the NAFCM website

Debra Oliver

Is Mediation Ready for Primetime?

(10/04/13)Debra Oliver

Claudio Ruben and Charles Fox both took mediation training, a mediator and trainer of 23 years. Years later, they hooked up to create a one-hour television drama about a very robust full-service mediation firm located in colorful Santa Fe, New Mexico.

Chris Poole

The Present and Future of ADR

(5/01/13)Chris Poole

The budget cuts to the court system have perhaps been felt more severely in California. In March, California Chief Justice Tani Cantil-Sakauye lamented in a speech to the state legislature, “our judicial branch budget has been cut greater and deeper than any other court in the United States.”

Justin Corbett

The State of Community Mediation

(3/19/12)Justin Corbett

The National Association for Community Mediation (NAFCM) has released its much-anticipated new report: The State of Community Mediation. This fieldwide assessment is the most comprehensive in nearly a decade, and includes many never-before reported statistics detailing the size, scope, and impact of the the community practice area.

Charlie Irvine

Hanging On The Telephone: The Future of Mediation?

(11/14/11)Charlie Irvine

I recently attended training in ‘telephone mediation’ delivered by two members of Mer Majesty’s Court Service (HMCS) Small Claims Mediation team. Over 99% of their mediations are conducted over the telephone in an hour or less.

Joe Markowitz

Imagining the Future

(11/07/11)Joe Markowitz

Congratulations to my fellow SCMA board member, and new president Barbara Brown, for pulling off a very successful SCMA fall conference at Pepperdine this weekend!

Delores Manwar

The Future of Community Mediation

(7/18/11)Delores Manwar

Our future, in my opinion, depends on how proficient we are in clearly defining and precisely getting the word out as to who, what, and where we are, and how valuable we are to the community.

Peter Adler

Hope For The Future? Follow The Kids!

(6/13/05)Peter Adler

Resolving complex, highly political, public policy issues is inherently messy. On occasion, a unique chemistry of effective leadership, good technical information, and principled negotiating actually does the job. It beggars the imagination to think that a bunch of smart high school kids could create inspired political breakthroughs where leaders in government, industry, and non-profits have repeatedly failed. Nonetheless, that is what recently happened.

John Paul Lederach

A Wish For The Future

(12/21/02)John Paul Lederach

I have a wish for a gift given from our generation to our great grandchildren, from the adults of this decade to the children of the end of this Century: Let this be the decade remembered as the time when the beginning of the end of human warfare happened.

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