This year I have been privileged to attend three wonderful international commercial mediation competitions, in which students from around the world come together with mediators and other professionals to practice negotiation in mediation and mediation itself, and to talk about best mediation practice. These are the International Chamber of Commerce International Commercial Mediation Competition in Paris, Lex Infinitum in Goa, and the Consensual Dispute Resolution Competition in Vienna. I have taken on different roles at these events, from coaching a team, to mediating with students, to judging students’ performances and giving feedback.
Each time I have left feeling exhilarated. Each time my work as a university teacher, mediator and trainer has been given a wonderful boost. These events are amazing meetings of people and minds, and their popularity is growing. More events of the kind are being established around the world. This is as good a place as any to thank all the organisers, sponsors and volunteers who do so much to make them happen.
There is more to this than just the fun of spending a few days with like-minded people from around the world – itself a fine thing to do. The fellowship and sharing that these events facilitate is special, and I am sure that mediation is a profession which is made for exactly this kind of sharing. Mediators, so my experience, are often wonderful people. But what we are doing at these meetings is also engaging in a global conversation and a global education experience that has a number of higher levels – aims both covert and overt that I would like to reflect on here. There are links here to the Global Pound Conference Series too.
Spreading the word
Firstly, events like these are about promoting mediation. If students of law are exposed to mediation and see its benefits then the hope is that they will consider mediation when it comes to their professional practice as litigators and counsel, and that they will be able to suggest it to clients. These events are attended primarily by students of law, but we need to reach out and spread the message of mediation to many other young professionals too.
I teach mediation at a small German university, to students of business and to students of commercial law, and at the end of each course I always ask my students what their biggest take-away is. They are unlikely to become professional mediators, and they know this, but they always acknowledge considerable improvement in their communication skills in general and conflict skills in particular. Good stuff, but what I really want them to say is that they will be the people in companies and organisations who can suggest using mediation to resolve disputes. We need to teach mediation to the future decision-makers – as the GPC Series noted repeatedly, including at the closing conference in London (see the