If you are a Southern Californian mediator you need to be at Pepperdine for this free SCMA event at 8.30am Saturday (that’s about now!) – but promise me, be kind to each other on this one;
The Daily Journal Jul 24 – Town Hall Meeting Will Address Mediator Expertise By Greg Katz Daily Journal Staff Writer
Do mediators need law degrees? Should neutrals who mediate business disputes have experience litigating those types of cases? Or, is it enough simply to have effective mediation skills and great insight into people and their interests? These questions have remained a topic of controversy as the practice of mediation has proliferated over the past few decades, with the field’s most highly sought practitioners coming from the ranks of lawyers, psychologists, CEOs and general contractors.
They re-emerged recently, when the Los Angeles County Superior Court began requiring nonattorneys on its mediator panel to get supplemental legal training.
Never ones to shy away from conflict, local mediators will convene to discuss and debate those questions Saturday at a town hall meeting called “Mediator expertise: What does it take?” The meeting, which convenes at 8:30 a.m. at the Pepperdine University School of Law in Malibu, is the sixth annual town hall staged by the Southern California Mediation Association, the state’s largest organization of mediators.
“It’s an extremely hot issue,” said attorney-mediator Phyllis Pollack, a member of the association’s board who helped organize the event.
The town hall will kick off with a presentation on the history of mediation by attorney-mediator Richard Millen, who has been called “the Yoda of the mediation world” and holds that subject matter expertise is not an important factor in mediation. After Millen’s presentation, there will be three panel discussions on various aspects of mediator expertise. Among the mediators scheduled to be on the panels are Edward Davis, a former transportation company executive; Joan Kessler, who holds a Ph.D. in communications and Alexander Polsky, who practiced criminal and civil law as an attorney. Lee Jay Berman, who came to mediation through the real estate world and never attended law school, will be the mediators’ moderator.
Does that mean the association doesn’t think mediators need legal training? “Like everything else in life, SCMA takes no position,” Pollack joked. “We have members who are both attorneys and non-attorneys. We welcome all mediators of all stripes.”