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Real Practice Systems Project Series

This post collects and summarizes the posts in the Real Practice Systems Project series.  I began by focusing on mediation systems, which are the combination of factors affecting what mediators do before, during, and after mediation sessions.  These systems include their routine procedures and strategies for dealing with recurring challenging situations.  Practitioners develop systems for other repeated tasks such as advocacy in mediation, negotiation, or a wide range of other functions.  So I generically refer to this as Real Practice Systems, not limited to mediation.

They grow out of my forthcoming article in the Cardozo Journal of Conflict Resolution, Real Mediation Systems to Help Parties and Mediators Achieve Their Goals, a draft of which now is available online.

Houston, We Have a Problem in the Dispute Resolution Field:  We use basic terms that are oversimplified and confusing – terms that even dispute resolution experts don’t properly understand.

Shifting the Central Paradigm to Dispute System Design:  Instead of identifying our field as ADR, we should use dispute system design as our central theoretical framework.  Although people often think of DSD as being used only in large organizations, individuals and small practice groups also handle streams of cases and can use these principles and techniques to improve their case management and dispute resolution procedures.

Ten Real Mediation Systems:  This summarizes accounts of ten mediators’ mediation systems – how we handle continuing streams of mediations.  It uses these accounts like data in a qualitative study.  It describes mediators’ personal histories, values, goals, motivations, knowledge, and skills as well as our particular categories of cases, parties, and behavior patterns.  These factors provide the basis for routine procedures before and during mediation sessions and strategies for dealing with recurring challenges.  Traditional mediation theories influence mediators’ thoughts and actions to some extent – along with many other factors.

The Critical Importance of Pre-Session Preparation in Mediation:  This describes why pre-session preparation is so important, why we should use the term “pre-session” instead of “pre-mediation,” and why faculty and trainers teaching mediation should cover pre-session preparation.

How The Real Mediation Systems Project Can Help Improve Mediation Quality: The Project is intended to encourage practitioners to be more conscious and intentional about their ideas and mediation practices. Helping parties and lawyers prepare before mediation sessions should help the parties and mediators achieve their goals as the parties and lawyers are more likely to advocate effectively and be satisfied with the process and outcome. This is especially important considering the limited efficacy of ethical, legal, and theoretical standards in protecting parties’ interests.

Resources for Using Real Systems Materials in Teaching:  This describes how faculty can use ideas and materials from the Real Mediation Systems Project to help students get realistic understandings of practice.  Although the project generally focuses on the systems that mediators develop and use, it can be adapted to understand the perspectives of lawyers acting as advocates in mediation, negotiators, and in legal practice generally.  In addition to requiring or recommending that students read pieces in this series, faculty could assign students to write papers such as (a) a Stone Soup interview of a practitioner, (b) a description of students’ actual system in simulated or real case(s) in their courses, or (c) a description of students’ desired system after they graduate.  This post includes templates for assignments that faculty could tailor to their courses.

More Ways to Help Students Understand Dispute Resolution Practice:  This post includes various assignments that faculty can use to help students better understand mediation, advocacy in mediation, negotiation, or other regular procedures. Faculty might assign students to read publications in this project and/or write papers. This post includes templates of assignments that faculty can tailor to fit their educational goals.

Using Real Mediation Systems Resources in Practice:  This describes how mediators can use ideas and materials from the Real Mediation Systems Project to better understand and improve their own mediation approaches.  Trainers and mediation program administrators can use this to help mediators in their programs.

Would You Like to Get the Benefit of the Real Practice Systems Project and Share Your Experiences?: This invites faculty, trainers, sponsors of educational programs, and individual practitioners to participate in a study entitled “Assessment of Real Practice Systems Experience” to assess how well Real Practice Systems assignments and exercises have worked in courses, trainings, and continuing education programs as well as for individual practitioners.

Take a look.

Originally published by John Lande in Indisputably


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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