Farce or Fantastic? Mediation Trainer Chosen, Mediation Experience Questioned

Northwest College has hired Pam Fisher for six days to provide mediation and facilitation services in regards to ongoing conflicts between administrators, faculty, staff and students at the college.

According to the Poweel Tribune:

"According to information in a campus-wide e-mail from NWC President Paul Prestwich, Fisher served as the chancellor of Yosemite Community College District in California for 12 years. She is a community college alumna, and her 30-year history as an educator includes service as faculty leader and in leadership positions in state and national organizations.
Her academic background is in psychology and counseling, the information said."

The six full days of training will cost the school $10,000.

The only question I have is what actual mediation experience and training does Ms. Fisher have???

To pay her 10K and not sight her experience in the work she will actually be doing baffling.

The article further states there was some contention as to how Ms. Fisher was chosen and specifically her trainings being more in line with leadership training.

So here I wonder, writer Ilene Olson puts together this article and quotes the press release. NWC President Paul Prestwich is quoted as well as a representative of the faculty board. No mention of any outreach to Ms. Fisher or failed attempts to contact her. I would think Ms. Fisher would be more than happy to answer the questions raised, right?

Bad reporting? You decide. All I know is there was an article written, and a potentially good story how a College is seeking to resolve disputes through communication yet the positive spin is dampened with unanswered questions.
Update: Okay, I realize that if I am to question the research methods (or lack of) used, I should at least attempt to see what I can find.
I am not sure if this is even the same Pam Fisher: http://www.thework.com/facilitators.asp?show=profile&fid=34&lang_cd=en
Here's a press release on her from 2004 retiring from Yosemite Community College (note: no mention of mediation): http://www.yosemite.edu/externalaffairs/1Media_files/Press%20Releases/YCCD%20news%20release%2004-01%20-%20YCCD%20%20Chancellor%20to%20Retire.pdf
Final note: I am not blogging this as a questioning directly of Dr. Fisher's abilities. I often search the news for mediation related stories to write about. This story caught my attention as I already stated above, I thought it was a good, positive attempt by the school. While reading the article, I did wonder if details were given of her various experiences, why was there no mention of her mediation experience? That thought was compounded even further when the writer actually quoted someone questioning that in the article yet see did not seek the answer to the question!
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Ombudsman Program Enters 40th year

Ombuds Program Enters 40th Year

WASHINGTON D.C. - Whether assisting families moving to a new area, or providing support during a deployment, Navy spouses have been volunteering for almost four decades through the Navy's Ombudsman Program.

"When families respond to the challenges of deployments, natural disasters or family emergencies, ombudsmen are there to provide guidance and to help them regain a sense of normalcy. They help families find the answers to their questions, promoting their resiliency and self reliance," said Master Chief Petty Officer of the Navy Rick D.

... There are presently 63 ombudsmen in Naval District Washington and more than 4,000 ombudsmen worldwide. The Navy requires there be at least one ombudsman per 250 service members.

The Ombudsman Program is a command-based program with each commanding officer tailoring the program to meet the needs of the families. The commanding officer officially appoints an ombudsman who then undergoes 25 hours of basic initial training.

Following their initial training each ombudsman is then required to do six, three-hour advanced training sessions a year on topics such as child abuse prevention and sexual assault intervention.

Additionally, ombudsmen are expected to attend monthly assembly meetings where ombudsmen are provided current information on programs or referrals that can benefit families and training.
Read more [
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Latest At ADRhub.com

ADRhub.com Web Panel Discussion
Join us on Thursday, April 29th at 5:30pm est. as Rita Callahan with tell us about her experiences working as a Conflict Specialist with New York City electric company Con Edison. She will also describe her vast experiences as a conflict coach and tips for those looking to get into the field. [read more here]
Embryo Custody Mediation
Steve Mehta- What will a mother in Missouri, a parent in California, and a mediator in San Francisco do with the case of embryonic mediation? A news story out of the San Francisco Chronicle reported on the story of a couple in California that contractually gave embryos to a midwestern couple for adoption/donation. Here is the story:

Please read this short post as we appreciate you joining ADRhub.com and we want to continue making this a site which you will want to return to and tell others about. We would like to hear what you think about the site. Please click the link to leave brief comment.
Why Bother With Arbitration Law?
Philip J. Loree Jr.- Readers are excruciatingly aware of the amount of time and energy we expend on what seems at first blush to be a relatively arcane area of the law: practice and procedure under the Federal Arbitration Act. It is a practice area that arises under a single federal statute that consists of three chapters and a handful of rather skeletal provisions. Why is this stuff so important?
If you hold yourself out to be a commercial litigator who handles arbitration proceedings arising under the Federal Arbitration Act, then you need to know arbitration law cold (or co-counsel with someone who does). If you do not, then you have no business representing clients in arbitration proceedings.

Introduction To The Ombuds Blog
Tom Kosokowski- I began publishing the Ombuds Blog in November 2006, shortly after began working as an ombudsperson for UCLA. I had previously worked as an attorney, handling attorney discipline and legal malpractice cases, and I was familiar with rich array of resources for attorneys. I quickly realized, on the other hand, that the organizational ombuds field was still evolving into a profession.
Although the field had developed significantly in just a couple of decades, it lacked many of the features of an established profession, such as a defined body of law, a certification process, peer-reviewed scholarship, or even a directory of practitioners. I decided to publish a blog to fill some of the gaps that I perceived.

Social Media For Lawyers, Mediators, Negotiators & Friends
Victoria Pynchon- I make these presentations because people ask me all the time how to use and maximize the value of social networking to build their businesses. This presentation includes a YouTube video on building a network with Facebook Fan Pages...

More News, Blogs, Jobs...
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Congress Needs An Ombudsman

I noticed this last week in the Washington Post and never got around to posting it. So here it is:

To borrow a phrase from a former congressman, White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel, a good crisis should never go to waste. Organizations often react to costly or embarrassing incidents by changing their ways. In the wake of the Eric Massa scandal, Congress should follow suit by appointing an ombudsman for workplace issues.

...Ombudsmen's offices are a proven solution to abuse in organizations in which employees feel there is no one in management they can turn to safely.

Read the full comment [here].

This, by the way, was a comment sent in to the paper. I think the idea is brilliant, especially given the recent poll stating 80% of people do not trust the Government (don't believe me? read it here). So will it happen? How wants to hold their breath waiting? ;)

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Congrats Jim & Mediate.com, It is Well Deserved!

The video below is a 10 minute video that shows Jim Melamed's acceptance (on behalf of Mediate.com) of the ABA Problem Solver of the Year Award on April 9 at the ABA DR Section Conference in San Francisco.

Congrats Jim (and John Ford too!)!

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American Airlines & National Mediation Board

Many times, Unions use the threat/use of a strike as their BATNA. Looks like AA wants to go through with it in this case.

The interesting aspect of this is they have to ask the NMB for permission.
From the Dallas News:

This week, the National Mediation Board will take up the requests of two American Airlines Inc. unions that want to be released from mediation and be allowed to strike.

This is the first time the board has faced such a request involving a major carrier since President Barack Obama took office in January 2009. And the industry – both airline managements and unions – are looking to see how the NMB handles these cases.

"What you're asking me in part is a political question," said Fordham University finance professor Frank Werner. "My guess is that the National Mediation Board is not going to be very excited about allowing a 30-day cooling period."

Full article [here].
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ABA Dispute Resolution Ethics Resource

The following is a dispute resolution ethics resource listing the rules, guidelines and some ethical dilemmas for you to read over and decide how you would handle the situation.

Enjoy (and hat tip to Maria Volpe, CUNY John Jay)

Dispute Resolution Ethics Resources

ABA Model Rules and Standards Relevant to Attorneys and Neutrals

Model Rules of Professional Conduct Amendments (2002)

  • Recognition of neutral role for lawyers. Rule 2.4
  • Conflicts of interest for lawyer-neutrals. Rule 1.12
  • Duty of Candor in mediations and arbitrations. Rule 3.3, 4.1

    Duty on the part of lawyers to advise clients of ADR options in resolving disputes. Rule 2.1, Comment 5
  • States that have adopted Model Rules of Professional Conduct 2.4 and 2.2 (Rule 2.2 deleted by Ethics 2000 Commission)

    Model Standards of Conduct for Mediators (2005)
    Model Standards of Conduct for Mediators: Reporter’s Notes (2005)
    Code of Ethics for Arbitrators in Commercial Disputes (2002)
    Ethics Codes for Settlement Negotiations (2002)

    Section Resources

    National Clearinghouse for Mediator Ethics Opinions
    This searchable clearinghouse provides comprehensive coverage of mediator ethics opinions from 43 states. The database contains a short summary of each opinion with a hyperlink to the original opinion or document issued by the state or national body. The Clearinghouse categorizes mediation ethics complaints and advisory opinions based on the Model Standards of Conduct for Mediators. To access the Clearinghouse

    Submit an Ethics Inquiry to the Committee on Mediator Ethical Guidance

    The ABA Section of Dispute Resolution Committee on Mediator Ethical Guidance provides advisory responses to requests for ethical guidance based on the American Bar Association/American Arbitration Association/Association for Conflict Resolution Model Standards of Conduct for Mediators (2005). The scope of the Committee is limited to the consideration of ethical issues pertaining to mediation. To submit an inquiry please click on the following link. http://www.abanet.org/dispute/documents/IntakeFormFINAL.doc

    To Read the Advisory Opinions Issued by the Committee Click Here

    Join the Ethics Committee
    The mission of the Committee on Ethics is to serve the public, dispute resolution professionals and the Section of Dispute Resolution through study and education on ethics as applied to dispute resolution practices. The Committee seeks to foster the highest standards of conduct by dispute resolution professionals and to enhance the dispute resolution profession's role in serving the public interest, in collaboration with other Section committees. Click Here For A Listing Of Committee Leadership

    Ethical Dilemmas from Just Resolutions E-Newsletter
    Every other month, the Ethics Committee or a guest columnist poses an ethical dilemma in mediation and invites the readers to reply with their thoughts. Below are the dilemmas and answers to date.

    The Judge Beckons The Unrepresented Tenant

    The Unprepared Lawyer The Distraught Wife

    The Mikado Club VIP To Disclose or Not to Disclose

    The Sleazy Attorney

    The ABA Center for Professional Responsibility
    The ABA Center for Professional Responsibility provides national leadership and guidance to the profession and the judiciary by developing, interpreting and promoting the implementation of policies and standards for the conduct and regulation of lawyers and judges and by producing scholarly and other resources. Resources include: Model Rules of Professional Conduct; ABA Formal Ethics Opinions; ETHICSearch Research Service; Disciplinary Agencies; ABA Section Ethics Resources and State Resources

  • read more "ABA Dispute Resolution Ethics Resource"

    New PhD Program

    Kennesaw State University recently announced their brand new PhD program in International Conflict Management.

    From the site:

    Welcome to a higher level of Education

    The College of Humanities and Social Sciences is now accepting applications for the Ph.D. in International Conflict Management. Given the demand for practitioners and decision makers in the approaches to and understanding of global interconnections in the 21st century, this degree will serve a vital need for developing additional academic scholars/teachers to educate the coming generations and for training doctoral-level practitioners to work in critical international conflict fields.

    The Ph.D. in International Conflict Management at Kennesaw State University is one of only a handful of similar programs available in North America. Classes will begin in the fall 2010 semester.

    Students entering the program will receive broad interdisciplinary training and opportunities that draw on many social sciences and humanities disciplines. Graduates will be able to address problems from a sophisticated knowledge base of substantive and methodological approaches. The core will prepare them in key global competencies including:

    (1) ethical foundations of global conflict,

    (2) cross-cultural analysis,

    (3) international relations, and

    (4) international negotiations. Methodological preparation will be rigorous, including courses in quantitative and qualitative methods, research design, and international program and policy analysis and evaluation.

    The Ph.D. program will also require its graduates to obtain significant international experience, written and oral language competency equivalent to that of U.S. Foreign Service officers in a language other than English, and teaching experience.

    Applicants are required to submit portfolios of documents as evidence of their qualifications. Qualified applicants will be recommended for admission based on the Graduate Admissions Committee evaluation of the submitted materials. The MA/MS degree in a related discipline is highly recommended as the basic requirement. Evidence of relevant full-time work experience or international experience is strongly recommended, but not required.

    The following documents are required:

    •Application form and fee
    Financial Aid and Assistantships are available through review by the Program Admissions Committee
    ◦If provided with an Assistantship, KSU Assistantships do cover both in-state and out-of-state tuition, however student fees will still remain the responsibility of the student. KSU Assistantships also provide a stipend.◦If provided with Financial Aid, a proof of funding is required. To review the KSU Financial Aid options please visit

    •GRE scores

    •A copy of transcripts from all universities (domestic and international) previously attended.

    •Evidence of language proficiency: in a foreign language for native speakers of English, and for non-native speakers of English via TOEFL or IELTS.

    •A brief résumé

    •A statement of goals and objectives explaining why the applicant wants to enroll

    •An academic writing sample in English on a topic related to the applicant’s area of interest

    •Three letters of recommendation from professionals who can attest to the applicant's ability to succeed in the program (at least two letters should come from faculty familiar with the applicant’s academic work).

    Get more information from their site [here].
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    Six Steps To Dispute Resolution

    I recently came across this information from the Australian Government's Department of Innovation, Industry, Science and Research (btw, sounds like a good group to work for!) and thought it would be of interest to everyone.

    It offers six step to dispute resolution for small businesses. First, I applaud the Aussie government for admitteding some the information might be outdated (I appreciated it when government agencies do such things as it seems to be a rarity) and second, the kit being offered is no brief pamphlet- it's 46 pages long!

    From the site:

    The Resolving Small Business Disputes: Six Steps to Successful Dispute Resolution kit aims to help small business resolve their disputes as quickly and as cheaply as possible, and to implement good business practice with respect to disputes that may arise. The kit is designed to encourage and help small business to use Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) as a viable alternative to litigation.

    The six steps include:

    •Step 1: Understand your dispute
    •Step 2: Understand your options
    •Step 3: Select an approach
    •Step 4: Access dispute resolution services
    •Step 5: Prepare for resolution
    •Step 6: Successful dispute resolution, including Avoiding disputes & dispute management systems
    •Dispute resolution - Case Studies

    A PDF version of the pamphlet could be downloaded [

    The webpage can be found [
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    Is This Mediation or Conferencing?

    Mediation Instead of Adversarial Court System to Be Used to Help Risk Kids

    Less traumatic procedures will be introduced by the Victorian Government to help children at risk of abuse. Child Protection workers will be able to mediate with families on such tender issues, like whether a child is removed from his or her home. Hence, under the radical changes planned by the State Government, mediation instead of the adversarial court system will be used.

    Full article [here].

    Note: I added the bold/underline as another article mentions it as conferencing- not mediation.

    From TheAge.com.au:

    DECISIONS on where children at risk of abuse or neglect live will be made through mediation instead of the adversarial court system, under radical changes planned by the state government.

    Currently, if protection workers believe a child is at risk of harm and should be in care, they must go to the Children's Court for an order to be made.

    But the Children's Court has been criticised - including by the Ombudsman - for being too adversarial and not always acting in children's best interests.

    ...Sources have told The Age that the government will move away from the existing system and set up "child protection resolution conferences" at which the parties involved in a case and their lawyers will meet in a non-court setting with a judicial convener. Parents, children, foster carers and child protection workers will be able to be involved.

    Judicial conveners will have the power to make decisions on where children live. Anyone not satisfied with the results of mediation will still be able to get the matter heard in court.

    Full article [here].

    Again, bold/underline added by me. Does this sound like mediation to you?

    read more "Is This Mediation or Conferencing?"

    10 Tips For Dealing With Conflict

    John M. McKee, founder and CEO of BusinessSuccessCoach.net, put together 10 Tips & Tactics for Dealing With Conflict which I think will help ADR professionals- as a mediator, ombuds, coach, advocate, etc.- better prepare themselves as well as clients for conflict prevention and resolution.

    For John's full explanation of the list, click the link below to go to the original posting. The added information here are my own thoughts and views.

    1. Ask Questions- The best way to find out more information and allow the other person to speak is by asking questions. Open-ended questions allows even more information to be gathered!
    2. Analyze Expectations- Do you expect the other person to give you the whole $100,000, the house and the boat.... and the car and the summer house? Think about their wants and needs to. Look at it as a negotiation- not a boxing match.

    3. Recognize Differing Perspectives- Maybe the other party see things differently? It's not always about right and wrong. Understanding their point of view is important in moving towards an agreement.

    4. Identify Mistakes- Was your message received the way your intended it to be? If not, it's okay to further explain yourself. Moving forward sometimes means acknowledging mistakes,even when they were not intended.

    5. Watch Out For Emotional Triggers- What gets you really, really angry or upset? Knowing and planning ahead will help prevent those moments of you having to say afterwards, "Why did I say that?"

    6. Focus On Preventing Escalation- Going tit-for-tat can contribute to a downward spiral of everyone losing. Think about what's best for you... given the current situation.

    7. Take Action To Control The Situation- Only you can control yourself, so try! It helps incredibly. Having control builds confidence, and confidence helps you think more clearly.

    8. Commit To Working It Out- Approaching a negotiation or dialogue with the mindset of being determined to enter it with an open mind and wanting to see a positive resolution will help that actually happen. Success comes from "cans" not "can'ts".

    9. De-escalate The Situation- Think about the relationship and the alternatives to reaching an agreement. Regardless, losing your cool and trying to one-up the other leads to confrontation. The idea here is working together- collaboration not confrontation!

    10. Stay Calm- Breath. Do it again. Prepare. Breath! Yes, breathing and preparing are two key elements to help you remaining calm. Also, anticipating the other persons needs, actions and wants helps prevent surprises which might have a negative affect on your 'coolness'!

    Original post [here]
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