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<xTITLE>M3: The Future Of Mediation</xTITLE>

M3: The Future Of Mediation

by Phyllis Pollack
October 2009

From the Blog of Phyllis G. Pollack.

Phyllis  Pollack

       In a recent  blog, I mentioned that the Southern California Mediation Association (“SCMA”) will be putting on its annual conference on Saturday, November 7, 2009 at Pepperdine University School of Law, Malibu, California. Entitled “M3 – The Next Generation,”  (see,2009scmaconference923095) its theme is the increasing use of mediation in our society. In 1976, Professor Sander espoused the novel proposition of having a “multi-door courthouse” at the Pound Conference. (I will call this M1 or the first generation of mediation).

       Over the next twenty years or so (M2 – the second generation of mediation), mediation and other forms of alternative dispute resolution (ADR) slowly took hold, both in the courts and in the community.

       Slowly but surely we have now come to M3 – the third generation of mediation - where mediation is becoming the norm and “litigation” is becoming the rarity.

       Where will M3 take us? I believe “everywhere.” Serendipitously, one of the conference’s speakers, James Melamed (who will present a discussion about online mediation), believes the same thing. Although the theme of this conference came to me in January, I came upon an article published by James Melamed on in March 2009 entitled “The Mediation Industry: Our Time Has Come.”

       In the article, Melamed opines that mediation is being used more and more often in these difficult economic times, precisely because it is “better, faster and cheaper” than the alternatives, (i.e. litigation?) Id. Mr. Melamed explains:

       ”[Mediation’s] growth is not based upon people wanting to engage in conflict. People hate conflict. Our growth is based upon mediation, despite its flaws, being widely and consistently viewed as the best alternative process available. If people cannot resolve things themselves, it simply makes sense to have a capable helper step in to assist rather than subsidizing a smaller war. . . .”  Id.

        Mr. Melamed opines that mediation fits today’s world because it is so flexible and adaptable to any situation or circumstance. A session can last 2 hours or 20 hours and can be used to lessen the blow of the current foreclosure crisis or to resolve mass claims arising from a natural disaster such as hurricane Katrina. Id.

      The author further notes (as have I in previous blogs) that the Obama administration has shown its commitment to collaboration: in fact, the President, himself, has mediated a dispute or two while in office – be it the “beer summit” or between France and China (“One Word”).

      At the SCMA’s conference, Mr. Melamed’s presentation will take us into the future; he will discuss using the internet and other forms of digital technology to mediate and resolve disputes.

      If mediation is being used more and more today, just imagine how much broader its use will be by using the internet.

      . . . Come join me at the Conference to learn where the future of mediation is taking us!

      . . . Just something to think about.


Phyllis Pollack with PGP Mediation uses a facilitative, interest-based approach. Her preferred mediation style is facilitative in the belief that the best and most durable resolutions are those achieved by the parties themselves. The parties generally know the business issues and priorities, personalities and obstacles to a successful resolution as well as their own needs better than any mediator or arbitrator. She does not impose her views or make decisions for the parties. Rather, Phyllis assists the parties in creating options that meet the needs and desires of both sides.  When appropriate, visual aids are used in preparing discussions and illustrating possible solutions. On the other hand, she is not averse to being proactive and offering a generous dose of reality, particularly when the process may have stalled due to unrealistic expectations of attorney or client, a failure to focus on needs rather than demands, or when one or more parties need to be reminded of the potential consequences of their failure to reach an agreement.

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