Wednesday, November 3, 2010

The Mediation Channel and Certification

The Mediation Channel, an excellent blog by Diane Levin, is a blog about “news and ideas about mediation, negotiation, and dispute resolution through the lens of law, pop culture, and social science."

Levin blogs about mediator certification, among other issues. She writes that “regular readers know that for some time now I have not supported the movement favoring the formal licensing or credentialing for mediators in private practice.” As have I. She has collected the arguments on both sides, pro and con.

Here she summarizes some of the reasons she has changed her mind, which are based on the fact that the de facto training standard has become 40 hours of mediation training and such training is inadequate at best and nearly fraudulent at worst.

I have written before about my belief that 40 hours of training is NOT sufficient to become a proficient mediator in a chapter in a forthcoming book to be published by the American Bar Association on State and Local Government Uses of ADR.

Levin writes:

If you’re a mediator, you should be worried. If you’re a member of the public that currently uses mediation services or may use such services one day, you should be worried, too. If you’re a student enrolled in a mediation course at the undergraduate or graduate level who hasn’t checked the qualifications of your instructor, or someone who took a mediation training without doing some due diligence, you should be worried as well. And whether you think these examples suggest that it’s time to move toward better regulation of the profession, or whether you disagree, I think there’s one point reasonable people can agree on:

The mediation field has got to do a far, far better job than it is doing right now to police itself, and to take a principled stand against practices that diminish our professional integrity and worth.

While I have long believed that the market, not government or the courts should regulate the provision of mediation services, I have slowly come to believe that maybe the time has come for certification. Although I am unclear about by whom and how such a certification system would work. Those doubts, which I still harbor, have been among the reasons I have been skeptical about certification systems, which today seem to be proliferating to no good end. So I am still looking for an answer. How to encourage quality practice, eliminate the proliferation of certification programs, many of which, to my way of seeing it at least, seem more directed at marketing a segment or set of people than trying to improve the quality of mediation services.

I think perhaps Peter Adler is right. See his article The End of Mediation: An Unhurried Ramble On Why The Field Will Fail And Mediators Will Thrive Over The Next Two Decades.

More about Peter and the End of Mediation in a future blog.

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