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Commercial Section Editorial

Welcome to the Commercial Section. This section is devoted to the advancement of professional commercial mediation from the dual perspectives of both the consumer and of the practitioner. I anticiate that we will focus on advancing the application of commercial mediation to business disputes and the practice of commercial mediation

Many of us share the conviction that there are uncounted commercial disputes underway on a daily basis. The direct and indirect costs to the business participants in these conflicts are huge. Many of these commercial disputes may well be better served with collaborative, rather than adversarial means of resolution.

Commercial mediation practitioners have an amazing service to offer the business world. Yet too often our telephones are not ringing enough and our calendars feature too much opportunity to take on new cases. These two symptoms peak my attention: 1) an abundant supply of commercial disputes, and; 2) an underutilized pool of well qualified mediation practitioners. This apparent contradiction does not seem to make good market sense and that inconsistency warrants close examination.

So why is that? We know we have an important service to offer. We have witnessed the mediation process transform seemingly intractable conflicts into solutions in amazing ways, and in seemingly unlikely situations. The value of mediation is clearly apparent to us as practitioners. We see how it can enhance the bottom line of business in a variety of aspects including time, money, and relationships.

But, why don’t our potential client bases seem to get it? If we get it, why don’t they? What’s with the gap between the concept and the utilization?

What seems to be inhibiting our success with our potential client groups? Don’t we have a better ‘mousetrap’ to offer? What do we need to do to get a larger ‘path’ beaten to our professional door?

The Commercial Section at is dedicated to creating a forward looking, positive, and proactive posture regarding the advancement of commercial mediation. We need to focus on what works in terms of getting commercial mediation to the forefront of business dispute resolution and then broadly apply it to our professional advantage.

There is a segment of the commercial dispute resolution market ideally suited to mediated dispute settlement, just as there are cases which are ideal for arbitration and others best suited for litigation. Our professional mission is to identify ideal market segments, address those segments, and increase the conflict market share best served by mediation.

If we currently don’t know just exactly how to enlarge the mediation market segment, let’s explore that issue and find some answers. If we need to adjust our concepts about applying mediation in the commercial environment, let’s adjust our paradigms and move forward accordingly.

What we do know is that mediation is an incredibly powerful process for efficiently resolving business disputes that is incredibly underutilized in the commercial world.

Let’s move forward examining these dual issues concerning the consumer and the practitioner. Let’s ask the hard questions and seek the unvarnished answers. Our result will be the effective advancement of commercial mediation as a profession and the development of successful and fulfilling mediation practices.


Tom Oswald

Tom Oswald is a civil/commercial mediator and conflict consultant from Boston. He practices both domestically and internationally and has been employed as a civil case court mediator.  Professional publishing includes editing the Commercial Section for, several pieces in various Association for Conflict Resolution (ACR) publications, and others. He has… MORE >

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