Beyond “Half Full or Half Empty” - Getting the Right Glass

There is an old engineering joke about the proverbial glass. Optimists see the glass as half full; pessimists see the glass as half empty; engineers ask “Who designed that glass?” Reading the articles posted under ‘The Mediation Futures Project’ 1 it is clear that there is little agreement about our future – some of us are optimists and some are pessimists.


F=T(Q+I) F = The Future; T=Trust; Q=Quality; I=Information

The Future of mediation hangs on several factors.  Probably the most important is Trust. If mediation is not widely trusted by users, it has a mediocre future.  This is simply because mediation depends on the parties, who usually do not trust each other, fully trusting the mediator and the mediation process.  Unfortunately, mediation appears to stand some way down the trust stakes.


A growing alternative to criminal trials: Mediation

James D. Whitewater faced life in prison if he was convicted of first-degree murder in a fatal shooting last summer outside a Nampa Walgreens. Co-defendant Joshua Wasserburger could have been sent away for life, too, if convicted of aiding and abetting first-degree murder. The two men's defense attorneys spoke with prosecutors, making a case for reduced charges that would bring shorter sentences. Canyon County prosecutors wouldn't budge. They were headed to trial.


Detroit bankruptcy shows mediation can get the job done

The Detroit bankruptcy, which many feared would drag on for years while the city's citizens suffered, was completely resolved in 16 months on a fully consensual basis. Many have asked how this was achieved and what can be learned from the Detroit experience. Although there are no doubt numerous lessons, we believe that the most significant takeaway is that mediation — the resolution of disputes through confidential negotiations led by a neutral facilitator — can produce faster, more satisfying and less rancorous resolution of disputes, and that such an approach can and should be used in other public policy disputes.


Dealing With Difficult Individuals in Mediation

In law, as in life, the world is often a stage, as Shakespeare wrote, with men and women playing, consciously or not, many characters, some more difficult than others. Learning to identify the parts being played, and learning how to deal effectively with the various characters, is always important, but perhaps never more so than in the context of a mediation. In a mediation, success is often determined by how well you can identify the parts being played by the other participants, and how well you can deal with these unique characters.


Court of Appeal Says Mediation Confidentiality Does Not Apply to Family Law Financial Disclosures

The mediation confidentiality statutes do not apply to mandatory family law financial disclosures, even if the required documents are exchanged during mediation, the Court of Appeal for this district has ruled. Div. Three Thursday granted a writ of mandate to Gina Lappe, the ex-wife of Beverly Hills physician and medical services entrepreneur Murray Lappe.


6 Reasons You Need a Prenup

Tabloid headlines are showing up in Chicago. The top is the divorce between billionaire investor Ken Griffin and Anne Dias Griffin in Chicago.  All the fireworks center around their prenup signed 11 years ago. The Griffins tied-the-knot at the Palace of Versailles just outside of Paris. Then began a two-day party which featured entertainment by Donna Summer and Cirque du Soleil.


Beyond “Getting to Yes:” Building Mediation Skills and Insights into Relationships

A quarter century ago many believed we were experiencing a revolution in the way conflict was managed.  Nowhere was this more noticeable than in the construction sector, the primary focus of my practice as an advocate and dispute resolution professional.  There, frustration with the costs, delays, risks, and limitations of lawyer-driven adjudication prompted growing attention to informal methods aimed at early resolution of disputes, putting those who “owned” the dispute back in the driver’s seat. 


Agatha Christie Helped Me Be A More Effective Mediator

Give me a great mystery book and I can get lost for hours trying to figure out “who done it?” Of course, Agatha Christie is the Grand Dame of all the mystery writers, and of all her characters, my favorite is Miss Marple. So how does reading Miss Marple books complement my mediation skills and techniques?



Connie Theron, Practising Attorney - UCT Law Clinic
“While working at the University of Stellenbosch Legal Aid Clinic and later at the UCT Law Clinic, I found the pro bono mediation services of Gerrie van der Watt of the Mediation Centre to be highly professional and extremely effective in our divorce matters. It is fantastic that our clients, with little or no financial means, can benefit from such an excellent programme.

The mediators are able to provide a non-threatening environment in which the clients are able to talk openly about issues that matter most to them, but which the Court in a divorce matter may choose not to entertain. Through the mediation sessions, the clients are able to reach an agreement together which ultimately they are both happy with. In cases where mediation did not yield the result of a settlement, the process was still extremely valuable, giving the parties better perspective and highlighting the key issues in dispute.”