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Straus Institute for Dispute Resolution

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STAR: A Systematic Approach to Mediation Strategies

Faculty: Peter Robinson, Deborah Thompson Eisenberg, and Jim Craven

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, and was recognized as a Southern California Super Lawyer in the area of mediation in 2006.

Deborah Thompson Eisenberg is an assistant professor of law and director of the Center for Dispute Resolution at the University of Maryland Francis King Carey School of Law, where she writes and teaches in the areas of alternative dispute resolution and employment law. Prior to law teaching, she practiced complex civil litigation, especially employment and civil rights cases, for 15 years. Her diverse practice included work at a large corporate law firm, a public-interest advocacy organization, and a boutique firm where she was a partner representing primarily employees. Eisenberg represented clients at mediation in a variety of contexts, in individual and class action cases, at agencies and in state and federal courts. In addition, she is a trained mediator and mediates employment and civil cases. She is the former president of the Maryland Employment Lawyers Association and a graduate of Yale Law School.

Jim Craven is a lawyer, mediator, and frequent speaker in the conflict resolution field. He has been practicing law for 40 years and remains of counsel to the Spokane, Washington, law firm of Evans, Craven & Lackie which he co-founded in 1978. He has extensive experience in the mediation of complex disputes, having served mediation clients throughout the northwest since 1990. He serves on the construction, commercial and mediation panels of the American Arbitration Association, and is a member of the Washington Mediation Association. Craven was a trial lawyer for over 25 years before becoming a full-time neutral. His trial practice emphasized complex construction, environmental, commercial, and professional negligence litigation. He received his law degree from Gonzaga University and the LLM in dispute resolution from Pepperdine University. In addition to his dispute resolution practice, Craven consults with business and government on a wide range of issues.