My Last Word On The ABA Conference

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.

                        author

Geoff Sharp

Geoff Sharp is a Commercial Mediator from Wellington, New Zealand. Geoff works in the Asia Pacific region, including New Zealand, Malaysia, Thailand and Pacific Islands. He is a mediator resolving business problems. He is a fellow of the International Academy of Mediators and mediates complex and hotly debated litigation covering… MORE >

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