Comments: Let’s Change Our Limiting Self-Labeling Practices

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John , Oakland CA   01/18/08
Follow Up Test
Hi Tammy, Our technical staff have worked on the problem and this is a follow up 'test' to see if you are receiving now comments? Please email me if you recieve this comment in you email inbox. Thanks, John

Tammy , Dublin NH   01/14/08
UPL or UPM or neither?
Paula, I look forward to our scheduled phone conversation this week. It's a meaty topic that I'd love to see more exchange about, both here on and in the blogosphere. Tammy

Tammy , Dublin NH   01/14/08
Well, gee, Matt, why don't you tell me how you really feel? :) It seems I pressed some of your buttons, yes? Here's where I'm puzzling about your comments: I don't see myself singling out volunteer mediators as somehow unworthy of the "professional" label. Indeed, I and other good mediators I know who volunteer some of the time or all of the time, use that label and proudly so. So I hoped the spirit of my article didn't convey what you understood. I also know volunteer mediators who abhor the "professional mediator" label because they believe it describes something they're not and don't want to be: mediators who take pay to help people solve problems. This may be far from the realm you work in, but there are mediators who believe "volunteer mediator" is the only badge of honor we should be wearing. It sounds like my attempt to convey that didn't come off as clearly to your eyes as it did to mine. I appreciate your feedback about that because now I can see how you saw it. I only wish you could have offered your feedback with a bit more grace. Feedback delivered in a way that's so in-your-face (perhaps that's just my perception in this online place?) is much harder to digest and do something useful with. Tammy

Tammy Lenski, Dublin NH   01/14/08
Hi, John - Just a quick note here to let you know I'm not receiving my article comments automatically. And readers who've kindly taken the time to comment, my apologies for not responding much sooner to most of them! I hope this will be fixed soon so I'll know when you've shared your thoughts. Tammy

Paula Young, Grundy VA     12/21/07
Benefits of a Diverse Field
I am writing a law review article on the unauthorized practice of law by (sorry) non-lawyer mediators. I had hoped to find additional citations that show why the field and parties benefit when mediators have diversity in their skills, backgrounds, professions of origin, and training. Short of bona fide article citations, I'd like to start a conversation about why we think this diversity is important to the field. We talk about cultural diversity a lot, but not about background/skill diversity. I am specifically responding to a comment that one of my faculty colleagues made: Don't you solve the UPL problem by making all mediators lawyers? I feel certain that many of the UPL regulators feel the same. Anyone familiar with the conversation that happened in Florida over the use of non-lawyer mediators in court-connected cases? Thanks.

John , Oakland CA     12/14/07
Hi Tammy, This is a test to see if you are receiving the comments that have been posted to your article? Please email me if you recieve this comment in you email inbox. Thanks, John

Matt Fen, W. Simsbury CT   12/09/07
Enough Double Talk Already
While I agree with the premis of the article, I have to laugh...half-way through the article the author chooses to deferentiate between Volunteer and "Professional". Is that not the same argument all over again? Do we really need to differentiate between Professional and Volunteer? If we do, then please tell me what the difference is? Assuming you can make a valid argument for that differentiation, then shouldn't we also differentiate between Lawyer-ADR Professionals and Lawyer-ADR Volunteers? Or how about PT-Volunteers and Profesional PT's (Physical Therapists). Or lets really get into it, those who've taken a 200 hour certification course in mediation, verse those that have done more than 1,000 hours of ADR, including mediation, arbitration and hybrids to obtain multiple certificaitons. Perhaps we can differentiate between everyone by adding yet another few letters or "credentials" after our names based on the number of hours or cases we've "handled". It's all pretty meaningless. I've known some very qualified and capable ADR Professionals who are also JD's and work pro-bono, and I've know some really terrible ones that get paid big bucks. So what? It's about doing the best you can for the client...with integrity and honesty, and authenticity based on knowledge and protocol and the like, and anything else is rather unfortunate Proof that there are those who will make an argument for anything, rather than make a valid point about something. Defining those who will do the function of a mediator properly should be the issue, this is not done by nature of a "label or credential" Not trying to be critical, just trying to be realistic

Tammy Lenski, Dublin NH   11/26/07
Couldn't agree more
Charlie, I like your suggested rephrasing a lot! You're right, that "regardless of" has become loaded and I'm grateful for you reminding us all of that. Thanks for taking the time to comment with such thought.

Charles Hogge, Plano TX     11/23/07
Taking Issue with
As I commented on Nov. 7, I appreciate this important contribution to our profession. As a newcomer to a second career as a professional mediator, following forty-eight years as an engineer, I am indebted to Dr. Lenski for raising this issue. I am also indebted to her for the mentoring she provides through her web site, and have become a subscriber. Having said that, I feel a bit sheepish at quibbling over the last sentence in the seventh paragraph that reads, "Mediator" embraces all who have the courage, capacity and constitution to sit in the mediator's chair, regardless of profession of origin, academic degree, and preparatory history. My problem is with the phrase, "regardless of _____." In my opinion, the first half of the sentence says it all, and adding the regardless enumeration adds a pejorative note of its own. A slight rewording would seem a little less so: "Mediator" embraces all who have the courage, capacity, and constitution to sit in the mediator's chair - without regard to their profession of origin, academic degree, and preparatory history. If this critique feels to you like quibbling and splitting hairs on my part, consider other situations where that term needs a respectful burial. It is a given that those of us involved in professional mediation need to be acutely aware of hidden messages that our utterances convey. My bias against use of the term "regardless of ____ " originated when my church sought to convey our desire to be a welcoming, inclusive church. A notice to all visitors was added to our bulletin that used the term "regardless of their race, economic circumstance, or sexual orientation." I expressed the opinion that we were sending an unintended hurtful message. The wording was easily changed. I believe all minorities are ill served when the term "regardless of ---" is used. I believe that term is condescending when used by someone not of that community, and pejorative whenever used. I have brought this issue to the attention of several of my friends in the LGBT community. While none of them were aware of having been offended, once they heard my opinion on the subject, they wholeheartedly and enthusiastically endorsed my view. While my sample size is quite small, I believe I have a point worth considering. This explains my web site comment: "I speak only English. Beyond that limitation, I welcome all clients of all ethnic backgrounds, religious faiths, economic circumstances, and sexual orientations who seek a peaceful resolution of disputes."

Celine , Nashua NH   11/16/07
Hi Tammy, I understand and agree with your argument. Celine

Jack , Dillon CO   11/15/07
I couldn't agree more with Ms. Lenski. The number of attorneys calling themselves mediators is staggering. Attorneys are trained to be advocates. Mediators should not be going there.

It was obvious even before reaching the author's biography that she was not an attorney.

Charles Hogge, Plano TX     11/07/07
Thank you, Ms. Lenski, for this important contribution to our profession.