The Death of Traditional Mediation – An Obituary

Tradition, I believe is something of value held to be preserved and repeated. Tradition (500 B.C. to 2020 A.D.) in mediation slowly died from various changes that did not uphold this tradition. After much abuse tradition in mediation gave up the fight, losing any attempts at resuscitation.. And what was that fight? A joint session with conflicting parties meeting in a single room with a neutral person as guide, allowing the parties to self-determine their agreement.

Now we’ve lost this tradition. Some would say it was evolution that caused its death. Others say it’s not dead just different. For sure, mediation as we knew it is dead. There are different processes or types trying to prove it. And so the tradition of self-determination in joint session is gone.

During its wake a lawyer said he had been in over 300 civil mediations( no PI cases) and not one was joint session. He also said many of his clients should have been allowed to work together in the same room but the mediator would not do it. So a candle was lit for the passing of traditional mediation.

Traditional mediation is survived by separate session (shuttle), narrative mediation, evaluative mediation, transformative mediation, and now internet mediation, the various practitioners of which all believing that mediation is alive and well. Several commented that traditional mediation was not a “one size fits all” type of mediation anyway.

Practitioners of traditional mediation feel the loss and will remember the glory days of early mediation. Then the knowledge of the mediator was not in the law or the subject matter, but in knowledge of people, knowing how to read people and how to work to keep the parties moving to an agreement, knowing when empathy was important and how to handle impasse, accepting and pointing out to the parties and their counselors the responsibility of everybody working in a joint session.

The parties needed guidance and support and now it’s not there in the traditional way.
Traditional mediation…….R.I.P.

                        author

Paul Rajkowski

Paul Rajkowski was born and raised in the Chicago area. After serving in the USAF, he graduated from St. Mary’s University of MN in 1967. Paul went to work in the printing industry as a sales representative in the printing ink division of a national company, eventually earning a sales manager… MORE >

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