Congratulations to Mediate.com on 20 years of meaningful contributions to the field.
Predictions for the future:
Lawyers will continue to hijack the process unless mediators stand up, using their process skills and knowledge of human behavior to challenge poor advocacy, lack of negotiation preparedness, and fear. The dying joint session is but one symptom of how the marriage of court annexed mediation and conflict management may not be in the best interest of the stakeholders.
Neuroscience will continue to value-add to the toolbox for mediators and astute problem solvers. Understanding and deploying the brain science and psychological research on human behavior in stress, will enable the A-list neutrals to rise above the ordinary, swing a cat-hit a mediator masses.
Advocates and users may eventually become more cognizant of mediator styles and thus become more thoughtful about mediator selection. Every mediation is a snowflake but not all snowfalls need a shovel or a plow.
So long as market users, i.e. the true decision makers, remain dependent on their legal counsel to select, direct and control the mediation/negotiation process, there is likely to be little advancement in public education. It would behoove ADR professionals to target their educational efforts more toward the parties. While public awareness of the power and value of the process is increasing , we should do more to assist in broadening their knowledge base.
Business users will expand the deployment of conflict management and dispute resolution strategies in their corporate environment. As ADR providers continue to become educated and skilled at facilitating difficult, learning conversations in the board rooms and workplace, there will be more interesting, fulfilling work for us. We are also likely to see much more early resolution attempts before a disputant and counsel pull the automatic trigger to the courthouse.