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Straus Community Represented at Annual Southern California Mediation Conference

The Straus Institute's students, staff, alumni, and faculty attended the Southern California Mediators Association's (SCMA) annual conference on November 1-2 in Downtown Los Angeles. The two-day event brought together hundreds of dispute resolution practitioners to discuss best practices and latest developments in the field, as well as connect and network among one another.

This year, the Institute sent five students--Maria Luisa Strapasson, Ricardo Barcellos, Zhiyi Yu, Austen Thompson, and Yusuf Alwattar--to attend the event and meet some of Southern California's most notable mediators and ADR practitioners. Kimberly Schulist (LLM '20) presented at the event on a panel titled, "Exploration of Niche Markets in Mediation." Several Straus alumni also attended the conference, and some served as panelists on relevant dispute resolution topics.

Professor Stephanie Blondell presented an energetic workshop titled "Reality Testing Around the Grid," exploring and referencing Riskin's Grid, a system for understanding mediators' orientations, strategies and techniques, devised by Dr. Leonard Riskin. Dr. Riskin regularly trains ADR practitioners during Straus' summer Professional Skills Programs and recently served as a plenary panelist at "Appreciating our Legacy and Engaging the Future" Conference hosted by the Institute in June 2019. He was honored, along with Professor Carrie Menkel-Meadow at SCMA's Friday evening Awards Dinner for their contributions to the field of dispute resolution.

Adjunct faculty Shaphan Roberts and Mark Lemke also attended the event; Lemke serves as SCMA's President-Elect for the 2019-2020 cycle. Chris Shea (MDR '18, MBA '19), Straus' Career Services Manager, also attended the event to network with on-site employers.

SCMA, founded informally in 1989, started as a series of "mediator roundtables" facilitated by Straus' founding director Randolph Lowry, Ken Cloke, and Richard Millen. In 1991, the organization became official, and its Articles of Incorporation were signed by Straus' former Managing Director, Professor Peter Robinson.