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The role of a mediator is often misunderstood by counsel and the parties. This can result in fuzzy or muddled expectations, and ultimately a failed process. Over time this lack of clarity can lead to counsel skepticism and resistance to mediation proposals. (See Why Mediation?)

It follows that something this important to the immediate well-being of the parties deserves to be properly designed. Success has the right parties armed with the right information committed to participate in a dialogue about solutions rather than a debate about the past and who is right or wrong.

Design with, not For

Experienced Mediators have learned to engage early with the parties and their counsel.

Mediation works best when all the parties considering mediation understand the process in which they are being invited to participate. The mediator and counsel can collaborate to determine the right balance between facilitation and evaluation. The parties can have meaningful input into their own role and that of their counsel. They can plan what information will really be required and how it will be shared. They can be encouraged to take more ownership of their own unique process.

The more attention I devote to the “Design with Not For” model in my mediations, the more I experience empowered and effective participation by all those involved.

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David Gould (LLB, QC, C Med) has helped hundreds of lawyers and their clients – business and government organizations, and individuals – in conflict situations to co-create solutions for the future. For more information, contact: david@davidgouldmediation.com or visit www.davidgouldmediation.com

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