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Straus Institute for Dispute Resolution

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STAR: A Systematic Approach to Mediation Strategies

Faculty: Peter Robinson and Deborah Thompson Eisenberg


Mediations are dynamic and fluid. Both aspiring neutrals and sophisticated advocates should know the predictable themes and stages of a mediation as well as the variety of styles and techniques used in each stage. Competence in the mediation approaches and techniques that are not intuitive for a particular mediator marks the differences between the serious professional practitioner and the causal volunteer. This course will survey how successful mediators use a variety of approaches in five fundamental stages of a mediation. The emphasis will be on encouraging the exercise of conscious professional judgment and strategies analysis for both mediators and advocates.

What you will learn:

  • Stages of a mediation
  • How to convene and open a mediation
  • Facilitating communication
  • Encouraging problem solving
  • Utilizing the predictability of distributive bargaining
  • Using intangible interests to overcome impasse
  • Facilitating closure
  • Balancing neutrality and fairness
  • Managing emotions
  • Effective case presentation
  • Ethical concerns of mediators and advocates
  • Mediation advocacy tips

Peter Robinson is co-director of the Straus Institute for Dispute Resolution and professor of law at Pepperdine University School of Law. He has presented advanced negotiation and mediation skills courses in more than 39 states and foreign countries. He has served on the boards of the Christian Conciliation Service of Los Angeles, Ventura Center for Dispute Settlement, Dispute Resolution Services of the LACBA, Southern California Mediation Association, and California Dispute Resolution Council. He is a Fellow of the International Academy of Mediators, a member of the American College of Civil Trial Mediators, andwas recognized as a Southern California Super Lawyer in the area of mediation in 2006.

Deborah Thompson Eisenberg is an associate professor of law and faculty director of the Center for Dispute Resolution at the University of Maryland Francis King Carey School of Law. She writes and teaches in the areas of dispute resolution, civil procedure, and employment law, and directs the Mediation Clinic. She provides professional trainings in negotiation and mediation and also serves as a private mediator in employment and civil cases. Prior to academia, Eisenberg practiced civil litigation for more than fifteen years. Her diverse practice included work at a large law firm, a public interest advocacy organization, and a boutique litigation firm where she was a partner representing primarily employees. Eisenberg received her JD from Yale Law School in 1994 and graduated valedictorian of her class at the University of Maryland Baltimore County in 1991.