New mediators should not see mediation practice as a business—an interview with Ting-kwok IU

Young Mediators Initiative manager, Angela Herberholz, recently spoke with Hong-Kong-based mediator Ting-kwok IU about his mediation career.

Ting-kwok Iu

Recently I had the privilege of speaking with Ting-kwok IU about his mediation career. TK is a successful mediator based in Hong Kong who describes himself as “a humble servant” and “a lifelong learner.” In 2010 he enjoyed his very first mediation, and has since then mediated over 600 cases. On average, he mediates 2 to 3 times per week and teaches mediation during the weekends. He still maintains his legal practice as a solicitor and serves as an advisor to the government on mediation related matters. If that was not enough, TK also give pro bono talks in and outside Hong Kong promoting mediation.

In the following interview TK shares how he started his ADR career, how mediation changed his life, and what young ADR professionals should be aware of.

How did you enter the mediation profession? 

“Around 2002, my best friend had asked me to accompany him to join a mediation training course. So it’s all by accident! Upon completion of the course, I passed the assessment and was accredited as a mediator by the Hong Kong International Arbitration Centre. Thereafter, I took part in various mediation activities and learned more about mediation from different mediation trainers. Since 2009, the Hong Kong Judiciary has played an active role to encourage the use of mediation as an alternative dispute process. Besides, the Law Society of Hong Kong has supported the use of mediation by confirming that mediation practice is covered by the professional indemnity insurance. With such a background and a bit of luck, I received my first appointment in 2010.”

How has mediation influenced your career and way of living? 

“Seeing others as collaborators rather than competitors!”

“Mediation has made me understand the importance of listening, questioning, reframing and ongoing relationships. Seeing others as collaborators rather than competitors is another important perspective that I have learned from mediation. I feel like mediation practice has made me a better person.” 

How would you describe the mediation landscape in Hong Kong and where do you opportunities for ADR professionals. 

“It is the policy of the government to promote Hong Kong as a dispute resolution hub in the region. Mediation courses are taught at universities. Volunteer mediators also help to organize mediation training and activities for secondary school students. With Mainland China as the hinterland, the future of mediation is very positive.”

With your extensive experience in mediation, how do you rate “Online Dispute Resolution”: threat or opportunity? 

“As a mediator, I keep an open mind towards new ADR platforms including online mediation. I welcome new ideas and am willing to take mediation to a new platform with the hope that mediation will eventually be reachable by all. There are technological and process challenges to be overcome. Given I take an integrative approach in life, I definitely see online mediation as an opportunity rather than a threat.” 

How do you rate mentorship programmes and opportunities for mediators entering the ADR profession? 

“I am not against mentorship programmes but a mediator has to develop his/her own practice through involvement in real cases. The door is always open for those with a good heart.” 

After years of experience, what is your advice to new mediators entering the ADR profession? 

“New mediators should not see mediation practice as a business. It is a service to the community and the parties. A person intending to become a mediator must behave like a mediator in daily life so as to gain the trust not only of the lawyers but each person around him/her. A mediator without sufficient actual mediation experiences should not act as a mediation trainer because a mediation trainer without the wealth of mediation experiences would easily give the candidates inappropriate advice. I would caution those who want to make use of mediation to earn fame and money by saying that:

Mediation is to serve the disgruntled and distressed rather than the mammon.”

Thank you TK for this insightful interview and for allowing me to share your ADR expertise. I really enjoyed our exchange and I know that the members of the Young Mediators’ Initiative will appreciate your insights too.

If you are like TK, willing to share your story to support the #NextGen mediators, please contact me. I look forward to speaking with you.

Originally published on LinkedIn.

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