With the advantages of mediation and other ADR processes, I often wonder why it is not more popular. I think it would be fair to say that most people know about mediation through tabloids and movies. When I explain to people what I am studying, I am often asked if its like the beginning of the movie Wedding Crashers. In fact, just this week I had three friends say they thought of me after watching a parenting plan mediation take place on MTV's Teen Mom. When you search for mediation on any news site, many of results come from two places, extremely difficult situations that don't seem to end like conflict in the middle east, or celebrities fighting. So how can we bring this to the commoner? Certainly it doesn't hurt to have mediations on the television, especially if it brings successful results. Perhaps one of the advantages of mediation, keeping the event and results private, is also its disadvantage. Even when the results are positive, there is a good chance that the benefits will not be seen by outsiders. Because of that, we cannot depend on word of mouth to advance of popularity of mediation. So here are some of my thoughts on how to improve this problem.

1.) Get an expert on TV, while it seems crazy, getting a mediator on Oprah would be a great start.
-Solving problems is already an intriguing source of entertainment. I don't mean to make light of situations handled by mediation, but a show or expert could raise the curtain on some of the mystery behind mediation. Everyone knows what it is like in court because of court shows. In the same way, people could also get to know mediation through television.

2.) On issues that do not involve private material, ask for permission to release results, or change the names and make case studies. In the best cases, have each party speak about the process and the results. Once again, I think removing some of the fear and mystique of mediation would help tremendously.

3.) One landmark agreement.
-While I cannot create this event, One thing that would help is a case that people can point that that was very successful that everyone knows about. Certainly there are possibilities, the middle east conflict, Afghanistan, solve the BCS dilemma in college football...

What are your thoughts? What else can be done to help mediation become mainstream?

Views: 53

Comment by Brooke Myones on October 28, 2010 at 3:35pm
Very interesting and accurate post. As a undergraduate currently enrolled in my first ADR class, I can honestly say that before this semester the word "mediation" did not mean much to me. However, now that I have begun learning about it, it seems a great alternative that could work to many peoples advantage. You make a great point when you suggest a mediator on a show like Oprah, or in some way intertwining it within entertainment. Even a show like Judge Judy could help mainstream the idea.

Although case studies would be interesting to some, those that do not know about mediation probably would not know what to do with it. As a Legal Studies major, I enjoy the idea. But, speaking for others my age, the idea of reading such a case study would not excite, and thus not help mainstream.

A landmark agreement would be a perfect introduction to help spark the interest of the public. Too bad we cannot start that one ourselves!

In a way, the court system has been publicized, turned into a source of entertainment, and made into somewhat of a landmark for our society. It appears in movies, television shows, reality shows, etc. In order for mediation to be as mainstream, I agree that, to an extent, this same evolution needs to occur. A great start would be a movie in which when a dispute arises, they go to a Mediator instead of Judge. Throw in George Clooney, and the movie would be a hit!
Comment by Nathan Law on November 2, 2010 at 2:24am
Jeff:
I appreciate your thoughts. The question you pose--"So how can we bring this to the commoner?"-- is one that I am particularly passionate about answering. I think getting an mediation expert on Oprah or a similar show would be excellent. Is this something you or other readers would be willing to make happen?

I too have been considering the effect TV might have on mediation. You may already be aware that USA Network plans to air a show Jan. 20, 2011 called "Fairly Legal" about a lawyer-turned-mediator. I think the implications for this are two-fold: First, it will raise a lot of healthy questions about mediation amongst the "commoner." Second, it will boil mediation concepts down to their bare minimum. This will be good for getting the word out about mediation because the simpler the message the easier it spreads. However, it could also put mediation in a box and make mediation seem too distant for our "commoner" to participate in. Making it relatable is important.

Great writing, I enjoy hearing your ideas! - Nate
Comment by Nathan Law on November 2, 2010 at 2:27am
Sorry, that comment should have been directed at Matthew. But maybe Jeff will respond too. =)
Comment by Nathan Law on November 20, 2010 at 2:14am
It looks like a mediator appeared on Oprah back in 1993. (http://mediationfirst.com/)

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