There is clearly a lot of ruckus around this show right now.
I propose that this ruckus is a “win/win” (to quote Kate Reed).
1) This show has sparked a few debates in the mediation world: “Fairly Legal is a perversion of the truth!”, “‘Fairly Legal??’ The double-entendre of the name alone is enough to make people think mediation is a laughing stock!”, and my favorite “With mediators portrayed like Kate Reed, clients will be expecting mediators to look and act like Kate Reed.”
I’m putting aside for a second whether these concerns have merit or not. Instead I would like to point out that this show has rallied mediators more than anything else I have seen in a while. The chat rooms are chipper. The discussions are dynamic. And more: mediators are mobilized. Mediators that I haven’t heard from in years are chiming in to defend or criticize the show, some out of serious concern and some to join in the fun of the conversation. Multiple spin-off conversations are now taking place about if mediators should be evaluative or facilitative, are we a field or a profession, should mediators be paid by the courts or by clients? These are excellent, invaluable discussions that have been a long time coming. Mediators are coming out of the woodwork to defend and promote their profession. And in a field where most of the practitioners spend much of their day being isolated from other practitioners, I would say this is unequivocally a WIN!
Kate Reed’s fee from the California Courts: $150 per hour.
Kate Reed’s shoes: $1,998
Rallying mediators: Priceless
2) I am going to propose a second side effect of this show that is a WIN. (I had to have a second because I promised you in the title that this show was a “Win/Win”. After all, “Win/ Nothing” doesn’t have quite the same effect.)
So the second WIN is the promotion of conflict resolution. This will be a little pollyanna-ish for a moment, but I would venture that many mediators entered the promotion with a desire for peace. A sincere hope that conflicts could be resolved in a peaceable, productive way. Well, the more people who know that mediation is a possibility, the more people who will pursue mediation. The more people who pursue mediation, then the more people who will resolve conflicts effectively, right? The more effectively resolved conflicts, the more peace in the world, right? I have watched enough Miss America pageants to know that everyone’s ultimate goal is world peace, so I am proudly saying that this show will lead to more peace which means: WIN!