Having put some distance between me and the ABA spring get-together the other week in New York, I am left with a slight hangover.
Not because of nights out on Broadway at God of Carnage or Billy Elliot, or that $25 whiskey sour on top of the Rockefeller Centre or even slugging pints of Brooklyn Brown downtown with Jeff Thompson.
I mean, there may have been some gold nuggets buried deep inside the conference program but, for the most part dear reader, I did not find them. Rightly or wrongly the ABA Dispute Resolution Section annual conference has become a leading gathering of global mediators and I expected more than I found there.
The usual masters of mediation were in attendance, some finding new ways of saying old stuff and some, in at least one plenary I attended, being content just to phone it in.
Now, this blog likes to be opinionated, not outspoken – but I do believe I voice the concern of many. The program was tired and some presenters had no business being at the front of the room.
For instance, if I decide to invest 1.5 hours in a session on starting a mediation practice I expect to hear from people who have actually started their own mediation business, and learn more from them than ‘get a good website’.
I also want to be challenged, I want to hear what’s around the corner, what’s ahead of the curve – why was there not one paper on what Web 2.0 means for mediators? I know one was offered.
It’s time for the ABA Dispute Resolution Section to re-evaluate it’s conference format and content – maybe less is more as mediation matures and the need for mediation 101 primer sessions diminish.
And maybe, just maybe, lose those cheap boxed lunches.
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