Practice Skills

New world, new priorities: Mediation’s evolving role

In recent decades, we’ve made strides towards being a more accepting, conscientious society. 

Crackdowns on bullying and a growing focus on mental health are just two examples of our increasing capacity for empathy and resolution – two traits which are often the focus of mediation. 

So as our collective outlook becomes more progressive, could mediation be the way forward? 

 

That’s exactly the question we’re about to explore. 

 

Acceptance, goodwill and wellbeing: our new priorities? 

It might seem far-fetched to claim that society is becoming more accepting while violence and social injustice continue to make headlines.

 

You may think it’s even more ridiculous to say that people are more conscientious of one another amid vaccine resistance and civil unrest.

 

But let’s not forget that the loudest voices don’t make up the majority.

 

That’s why Emma Ryan of Lawyers Weekly suggests we take a look at the evidence.

 

10 years ago, who would have thought that conservative Australia would vote in favour of same-sex marriage?

 

From the crackdown on bullying and the increased focus on mental health, to adopting facemasks and other cautionary measures to protect our most vulnerable: society is prioritising wellbeing now more than ever.

 

So what does this mean for lawyers?

 

Mediation: an amicable means of minimising harm

Ronald J. Levine, a New Jersey litigator, suggests that clients are feeling even more overwhelmed than usual.

 

The compounding stress of the pandemic and a lawsuit is simply too much for many people. 

 

Due to the “tremendous personal and economic stress” caused by COVID-19 across the world, Levine believes that minimising harm is the best way forward.

 

“In the aftermath of the pandemic, lawyers must do everything possible to reduce the human and economic stresses on the litigants and the court system that result from full-blown litigations,” Levine explains.

 

To avoid the emotional, economic and physical toll that comes with a lengthy court fight, mediation can act as an early, voluntary and effective solution.

 

Breaking the litigation mould

If you look at Kübler-Ross’ ‘5 Stages of Grief’, you’ll notice that they closely resemble the journey clients pass through during litigation – denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance.

 

Unfortunately, we often get stuck on those early stages – denial and anger.

 

But what if we were to evaluate that final stage at the very beginning of our litigation process?

 

Adopting early case assessment, Levine suggests, could break the tired and dissatisfying ‘pleading-discovery-trial preparation-settlement’ model.

 

He argues that early case assessment and mediation provide a win-win mechanism, and that by making mediation the norm, we can significantly reduce harm to the client and the strain on the court system.

 

Ryan agrees with this sentiment. She reiterates that while animosity is the general vibe of court hearings, resolution and empathy are the counteracting focus of mediation.

 

With the developed world barely starting to lick the wounds left by COVID-19, harm reduction should be at the forefront of our legal approach. While sprinting into battle may be tempting, it’s time we shift our focus – from combat to compassion.

 

Ready to dive into the world of mediation?

Whether you’re looking to become an accredited mediator, or simply looking to add more skills to your legal tool kit, we have a variety of National accredited mediator training programs  for you.

 

The four-day practical workshops are conducted via video conferencing and teach you how to mediate general disputes. 

Looking for something else? Browse our full range of 2021-22 CPD courses.