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Practitioners Tell Why Real Practice System Checklists are so Useful

Nature and Benefits of the Real Practice System Checklists

The Real Practice System Menu of Mediation Checklists received many rave reviews.  People said that they are “interesting,” “informative,” “so very useful,” “really helpful,” “great,” “excellent,” “wonderful,” “fantastic,” “invaluable,” “impressive,” “very thorough,” “brilliant,” and “utterly awesome” resources.  “Just wow!”

I identified numerous ways that the checklists could be used by practitioners, program administrators, and faculty, and I asked people to describe how they might use them.  I am very grateful to current and former practitioners Peter Benner, Graham Boyack, Gary Doernhoefer, Brian Farkas, Clare Fowler, Laura Kaster, Randy Kiser, Jim McGuire, Paul Monicatti, John Sturrock, Jeff Trueman, Tom Valenti, and two court mediators for providing their extremely thoughtful responses.

This short article summarizes their ideas using excerpts from their responses.  It illustrates why practitioners have been so darn enthusiastic.  The checklists can help mediators carefully design their unique practice systems, starting from providing general information about their practices to engaging in self-assessments after cases – and everything in between.

The checklists are designed for each mediator to customize their individual checklists to reflect the kinds of cases and parties they work with and the procedures they find useful.  Mediators can use the checklists throughout their careers to improve their skills through systematic reflection.

Although the checklists are specifically designed for mediators, practitioners can use them in other roles such as advocates in mediation and negotiators in unmediated negotiations.  Good attorneys need to learn the context of their clients’ disputes, understand their intangible interests, consider possible resolutions in addition to lump-sump payments, analyze plausible outcomes if the parties do not settle their disputes, prepare their clients for mediation or negotiation, and help them make the best possible decisions in their cases.  The checklists can help attorneys refine their skills and performance and thus improve their service to their clients.

Here’s an outline of the article:

Nature and Benefits of the Real Practice System Checklists

  • Comprehensive Scope of the Checklists
  • Two Types of Checklists
  • Planning for a Coherent Process
  • Preparing Parties for Mediation Sessions
  • Suggesting Effective Techniques and Avoiding Mistakes
  • Preventing Parties’ Decision Fatigue
  • Helping Draft Thorough Agreements That Satisfy Parties’ Interests
  • Improving Mediators’ Skills Through Systematic Reflection
  • Helping Mediators Throughout Their Careers
  • Using Checklists to Design Mediation Practice Systems
  • Using Checklists in Specific Cases
  • Using Checklists in Teaching and Training
  • Summary

If you are putting on the finishing touches for your spring semester courses, you will see several suggestions about how you could use the checklists in your courses.  The checklists are practical resources that bridge the gap between theory and real-world practice.

The checklists can be invaluable aids to your students conducting interviews, counseling, negotiation, or mediation in real or simulated cases.  They also include a long list of questions you might ask in debriefing the cases.

Most lawyering, negotiation, mediation, and dispute resolution survey courses highlight the importance of understanding parties’ interests, potential agreements in addition to lump-sum payments, and plausible outcomes if parties do not settle.  They also generally emphasize the importance of preparation.  The checklists provide extensive lists of these matters – much more than most courses have time to address.

Take a look at the article here.


John Lande

John Lande is the Isidor Loeb Professor Emeritus at the University of Missouri School of Law and former director of its LLM Program in Dispute Resolution.  He received his J.D. from Hastings College of Law and Ph.D in sociology from the University of Wisconsin-Madison.  He began mediating professionally in 1982 in California.… MORE >

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