ABA Task Force on Improving Mediation Quality

The ABA Section of Dispute Resolution’s Task Force on Improving Mediation Quality completed its report in 2007 and got only average coverage at the time.

But all is forgiven now that the complete 47 page report has recently been posted on the Web.

On the Task Force were notables like John Lande, John Bickerman and Homer LaRue and it was established in response to concerns about poor-quality mediation services in commercial cases.

The worthy aim of the Task Force was to develop proposals to increase the quality and use of commercial mediation. The report contains some interesting views from the 90 mediation users (lawyers and parties) who participated in a number of focus groups.

For instance, users thought these mediator interventions are helpful in half or more of their cases:
�� 95%—ask pointed questions that raise issues
�� 95%—give analysis of case, including strengths and weaknesses
�� 60%—make prediction about likely court results
�� 100%—suggest possible ways to resolve issues
�� 84%—recommend a specific settlement
�� 74%—apply some pressure to accept a specific solution

The Task Force collected information about user perceptions of mediators utilizing analytical techniques in mediation…

“We observed in our focus groups that many reasonably sophisticated mediation users in civil cases want mediators to provide certain services, including analytical techniques.

A substantial majority of survey participants (80%) believe some analytical input by a mediator to be appropriate. Other survey questions focused more specifically on user attitudes about specific kinds of input by the mediator.

The following percentages of our users surveyed rated the following characteristics important, very important or essential:
�� 95%—making suggestions
�� about 70%—giving opinions”

No time to read the report’s 47 pages of close type?

Then go here for a summary of the key points.

Time to spare and in Boston on March 19? Then go listen to Prof. John Lande presenting at Harvard’s PON Dispute Resolution Forum.

His talk – “Empirical Research Findings on How to Improve Mediation Quality and Increase Lawyers’ Use of Interest-Based Negotiation” – is based on his own research as well as that conducted by the Task Force.


Geoff Sharp

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… MORE >

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