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Why Mediation Competitions are a Win-Win for Everyone Involved

Mediation and competition are words that stand worlds apart. Mediation comes from the Latin word “medium”, i.e. the middle ground. Competition, on the other hand, is a derivative of the word “compete”, which in Latin translates to “come together”. Not so apart after all, right? The very combination of the two in the single phrase of “mediation competition” can thus be construed to mean “to come together in the middle”. This single string of words may best describe what is the essence of mediation competitionс – to consolidate people and help them find the middle land or Middle Earth in Tolkien’s terms where men live. It is in this middle land that all involved in such competitions can find their win-win for the aspirations they hold.

Mediation competitions accompany the very introduction of mediation as a subject from Universities’ curriculums. The reason for this may be explained by the basic fact that deeply imprinted in our DNA is the hunger to compete as means of survival. Hence, we apply this strategy in all humane activities and through it we learn. This is equally valid for the numerous events – be it national or international, which seek to gather students, coaches, professionals and academia into a single place and get them to collaborate, learn, communicate with each other or simply be present to experience one’s role as part of something bigger. In other words – applying in full the method of “learning by doing”. Does this help students? Does it help professionals? What is the driving motivation for organizing events of such scale?

There is no straight answer to the above questions – it is all very personal, all very specific. Students in mediation competition are most often motivated to participate in order to get a hand on practical skills, see where they stand amongst a group of other nationals or internationals and improve their CV by adding some extra-curricular activities thereto. The learning curve of such events is so steep that it can well be concluded that participation in such competitions does change lives. It offers an opportunity for students to submerge in the shoes of a mediator, lawyer, business person and subsequently choose a carrier in the field or a different professional path if they establish they do not hold devotion for any of this. Separate to it is the thrill of inter-university comparison and the drive for win. All of the above cannot but better serve the learning aspirations that such events hold. They simply provide ample opportunities for widening students’ knowledge and allowing them to master skills, not theories.

For practicing mediators, taking part in such competitions in the role of, for example judges or coaches, the positive outcome does not stray far from the goals of the students. Broadening the scope of different approaches to mediating conflicts, emerging trends in mediation and some of the existing international best practices is a never-ending objective, with participation in such competition bringing an excellent opportunity to do so. Having the chance to cooperate with mediators from all over the globe is a source of new ideas, a way of forming new relationships or contributing to the expansion of a wider community of like-minded whose goal is to live and breathe mediation.

A different point of view is that of university lecturers. For them, organizing and participating in such competitions present an opportunity to test and motivate their students, add another grain of salt to those who are curious to popularize mediation as a whole. Ranking in such competition is also relevant when it comes to Universities’ image and their ranking and ultimately to improving their chances to attract more and better students. All of the above is twice more important in the context of mediation being introduced as a separate prestigious study subject in those universities that aspire to be perceived as modern and innovative.

Sponsoring such events is usually supported by the big law firms who are always on the look for new talent for their future interns and respective employees. What better chance one would get to experience first-hand performance of a future intern and be able to choose from the best? Additionally, big law firms use such events as a chance to showcase they work and experts in the ADR field, strengthen globally their brand and contributing to their corporate social responsibility activities.

All in all, it seems to be a win-win for all those involved in mediation competitions as they do “increase the pie”. We should be doing more of those events that facilitate for the creation of a global community of like-minded people who are true ambassadors disseminating mediation’s values. Whether they should continue bearing the name “competitions” and with this – the intrinsic connotation of a culture that divides and seeks to oppose individuals one against the other, is still questionable. Needless to say, there may be better ways to define the format in a less adversarial manner that contributes to the overall goal sought which is to empower and enable learning. What are these and how to generate them is yet to be established, but the answer is clear – we need to design events that allow participants to truly get to experience mediation and with this – to foster ADR in a new, more powerful manner.

If you are interested in taking part in such an event regardless of the capacity (student, coach or judge), the International Academy of Dispute Resolution –      INADR, offers a chance to do so and join in the latest INADR MRU Mediation Tournament schedule for 21-25 November 2023 atMykolas Romeris University in Vilnius, Lithuania. INADR is an international organization whose mission is to build through education world-wide recognition of the power of dispute resolution processes to peacefully resolve conflicts and promote conciliation and healing. Established in 1985 as a college mock trial tournament, the Academy grew to be one of the leading mediation tournaments organizers. What differentiates it from other international competitions though (alike those at the American Bar Association (ABA) and at the International Commerce Commission (ICC), Paris, France) is that in the INADR tournaments, students participate as mediators, lawyers and parties. They co-mediate with a student from another school – often from another country in the international tournaments – thereby learning how to work with rather than against another student competing in the tournament. At the same time, every two years, the Academy convenes an international Congress wherein mediation professionals, educators and others present on relevant mediation topics. All of the above contributes to attracting leading professionals to the competitions and enables the learnings and networking that the organization has at its heart.


Julia Radanova

My aspiration to enter the field of mediation is deeply rooted in my desire to: - go beyond the surface; - uncover hidden interests; - facilitate high-value conversations raising the self-awareness of their participants. In my professional work, I have always strived to establish sustainable solutions that match in the… MORE

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