Find an Online Mediator

How Can We Best Make and Maintain Quality Mediators?

by Jim Melamed, Forrest (Woody) Mosten

January 2021

Background

It was during late March 2020, soon after the pandemic first made global headlines, that a group of leading mediators and mediation trainers realized on a Zoom call that the ONLY mediation then taking place in the U.S. and around the world was suddenly "online mediation." Further, we also realized that ALL mediation training was also then remarkably taking place online. Further, despite this near complete shift of mediation services and training to the online environment, we also realized that there were barely any standards, guidance or established best practices for online mediation and online mediation training.  We decided that we owed it to ourselves and to the global mediation community to explore whether this void can be effectively addressed.

This is background to the establishment of Mediate.com's Online Mediation Training Task Force, now operating under the leadership of Forrest (Woody) Mosten, Task Force Chair.  In sum, the Task Force is now seeking to address a rather huge issue, which is, in our new online world, "How can the mediation field (now and in the future) best make and maintain quality mediators?  This task is made even more challenging when we consider the broad range of mediation case types (e.g., family, elder, workplace, community, public policy, commercial, etc.) and our additional interest in finding international, if not global, answers in a world of diverse racial, cultural, technologic, and economic development.

The establishment of the Online Mediation Training Task Force was initially described in this introductory article.  As there described, the Task Force is to: "make recommendations on best practices and possibilities for both generally training mediators online and training to perform online mediation."  The Task Force plans to issue a report and recommendations with a vast array of materials and other resources during June 2021. 

The Task Force's Executive Committee is as follows: 

Advisory Board and Task Force Committees

An additional 32 member Task Force Advisory Board has also been established and is listed HERE.  Further, the Task Force has established 14 Focused Committees, as follow:

1. Beyond Mediation: Conflict Coaching, Life Coaching, Collaborative Practice & Consultants to Mediation
Co-Chairs: Brian Galbraith and Pattie Porter
Members: D.A. Graham, Amy Skogerson, DeAnne Pladson, Sam Imperati, Jonathan Rodrigues

2. Community Mediation 
Chair: D.G. Mawn
Members: Arron Addison, Kabrina Bass, Brandon Brown, Sara Campos, Corinne “Cookie” Levitz, Charles A. Lieske, Norma López, Jeanne Felicity Zimmer

3. Cross Jurisdictional  Issues                    
Chair: Melissa Kucinski
Members: Obi-Farinde Morenike, Michael Coffee, Marvin Johnson, Ai Kuroda, Angelia Tolbert, David Hodson

4. Cutting Edge Marketing for On Line Mediation
Chair: Susan Guthrie
Members: Alberto Elisavetsky, Gabrielle Hartley, Jonathan Rodrigues, Michael Aurit
 
5. Diversity & Inclusion                             
Co-Chairs: Marvin Johnson & Angelia Tolbert
Members: Leah Wing, Michael Lang, Kendra Jobe-Ogunshina, D.G. Mawn

6. Ethics, Standards and New Technologies    
Chair: Colin Rule
Members: Obi-Farinde Morenike, Linda Seely, Leah Wing, Sharon Sturges, Tim Hedeen, Peter Salem

7. Experiential Training: Clinics, Simulations & Video Feedback  
Chair: Tricia Jones
Members: Doug Frenkel, Melissa Kucinski, Judge Elizabeth Potter Scully, Tim Hedeen, Julian Portilla, Sukhsimran Singh, Lara Traum, Bruce Edwards, Jan Martinez
             
8. Family & Elder Mediation              
Chair: Susan Guthrie
Members: Ken Neumann, Peter Salem, Lara Traum, Gabrielle Hartley, Linda Seely
 
9. Global Mediation Development: Developing Cultures of Mediation
Chair: Tara Ollapally
Members: Obi-Farinde Morenike, Bruce Edwards, Lara Traum, Ken Cloke
 
10. Mentoring & Case Consultation         
Chair: Michael Lang
Members: Vivienne Fey, Angela Haberholz, Chris Lahatte, John Settle, Susan Terry, Howard Herman, Cherise Hairston, Amanda Semenoff and Patricia Draves

11. Public Policy & Large Group
Chair: Donna Silverberg
Members: Winter Wheeler, Ken Cloke

12. Workplace
Chair: Clare Fowler 
Members: Winter Wheeler, Angela Reddick-Wright

13 Youth and Schools                                  
Chair: Clare Fowler
Members: Sherril Ellsworth, Linda Seely, Jonathan Rodrigues

Four Anticipated Public Forms

While final dates have not yet been set, the Task Force anticipates hosting 4 online public Forums during the spring.  The first of these will be with regard to Diversity and Inclusion in the field of mediation.  In fact, it has been requested that each and every committee consider issues of diversity and inclusion as a part of our work.

The Task Force also plans to offer a focused Forum on Youth and Schools.  .  While not professional mediation practice per se, there is broad recognition on the Task Force of the desirability of creating cultures of mediation as a part of our educational systems.  We seek to have our children educated and experienced in respectful dialogue and capable joint problem-solving from an early age and to develop age appropriate online pedagogical methods and materials.

The Task Force also plans to have a public future focused Forum on Innovative Practices for Online Mediation Training, both generally and with regarding to specific practice areas, including community, family & elder, workplace and public policy mediation.  This Forum will also consider historic mediation training standards, emerging new standards, and newly available technologies and concepts for both mediation training and mediation services. We will also be here considering what additional curriculum and experiential components are reasonably needed to offer effective online mediation services.

The Task Force's final anticipated public Forum will be focused on "Beyond Training," specifially considering such additional issues as mentorship, consultation, simulations, video feedback, observation, co-mediation, ongoing webinars and live and recorded continuing education.

Global Aspirations

The Task Force also recognizes that mediation and online mediation training are now truly global issues.  There are no geographic boundaries to training and education online.  For this reason, our Global Mediation Development Committee will be focusing on growing mediation cultures beyond North America and Europe, with a specific focus on India, Africa, Russia and Latin America. Related is our committee examining Cross Jurisdictional Issues for mediation practice and online mediation training.

Finally, as if we did not already have enough on our plate, we are examining the need for new Ethical Standards for Online Mediation and Online Mediation Training.  We are also seeking to define and share best practices for Cutting Edge Marketing for online mediation training and online mediation services.

Challenging Issues

Among the most challening issues for the Task Force are the following:

  • Should training with appropriate curriculum in online mediation be required for all mediators?  
  • Should every  mediator now be able to be fully trained online?
  • Is some face-to-face mediation training needed for mediators who plan to exclusively mediate online
  • How much training should be "live" and how much may be recorded?  May all of a mediator's training be recorded? What are the best practices for online live and recorded trainings?
  • How can diversity and inclusion be best supported and assured for online mediation and online mediation training? 
  • To what extent should feedback mentorship and/or consultation using video or other technological support,  be required for mediators going forward?
  • How can mediation ethical standards be best updated to embrace online mediation services and online mediation training? How can these new standards be best promoted?
  • To what extent should observation, consultation, mentorship and co-mediation be utilized for mediator experiential training?
  • How can online mediation services and online mediation training be best promoted?
  • What online mediation and online mediation training research is most needed?
  • How can online mediation trainers themselves be best trained? 

Forums and Updates

Updates on the Task Force's work, including dates for the four Task Force Public Forums, will be soon announced in the Mediate.com newsletter "This Week in Mediation," located at www.mediate.com/Newsletter and available by free subscription.  Stay tuned.  We look forward to seeing many of you at the Public Forums!


Jim Melamed co-founded Mediate.com in 1996 and served as CEO of Mediate.com through June 2020 (25 years).  During Jim's tenure, Mediate.com received the American Bar Association's 2010 Institutional Problem Solver Award.  Before Mediate.com, Jim founded The Mediation Center in Eugene, Oregon in 1983 and served as Executive Director of the Academy of Family Mediators (AFM) from 1987 to 1993. Jim was also the first President and Executive Director of the Oregon Mediation Association (1985-86). Jim's undergraduate degree is in psychology from Stanford University and his law degree is from the University of Oregon.

Jim has received the following awards: The Oregon Mediation Association's 2003 Award for Excellence; The Oregon State Bar's 2006 Sidney Lezak Award of Excellence; The Association for Conflict Resolution (ACR) 2007 John Haynes Distinguished Mediator Award; The 2012 Academy of Professional Family Mediators (APFM) "Getting To Yes" Award; The APFM's first Outstanding Mediator Award (2018); and the Oregon Mediation Association's 2020 Lifetime Achievement Award.


Forrest (Woody) Mosten

Forrest (Woody) Mosten has been in private practice as a mediator since 1979 and currently is practicing mediation and collaborative law 100% online serving clients throughout the world. Woody is a founding partner of the Mosten-Guthrie Online Training Academy for Mediators and Collaborative Professionals. He is Adjunct Professor at UCLA School of Law where he teaches Mediation, Family Law Practice, and Lawyer as Peacemaker. He and has been in private practice as a mediator since 1979.

Woody is the author of six books and numerous articles on mediation, collaborative law, legal access, and building a peacemaking career. Woody served as convener for the 1999 international symposium, Training Mediators for the 21st Century. He has been Guest Editor for the Family Court Review’s special issues 4 times, most recently for the July 2015 issue on Peacemaking for Divorcing Families.

Woody trains mediators, collaborative professionals, and lawyers in conflict resolution courses ranging from basic to master classes and trainings for mediation trainers and presents keynotes at conferences throughout the world.  In 2019, Woody received the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Academy of Professional Family Mediators and, in 2020, the Southern California Mediation Association established the Forrest Mosten Star Award for Excellence and Innovation in Mediation. Woody can be reached at www.MostenMediation.com.

The views expressed by authors are their own and do not necessarily reflect the views of Resourceful Internet Solutions, Inc., OnlineMediators.com or of reviewing editors.