Settling Disputes without Lawyers

Now that I have your attention, I must confess that the sub-head of the article in the BuffaloNews.com of August 29th actually read, “Settling disputes without lawyers can save you money”.

The piece goes on to discuss various processes in ADR, alternative dispute resolution, in terms of  “a less expensive, less time-consuming, more private option to settle conflicts.”

The objective of mediation as an ADR process here is a negative one, to avoid expense, time, and abstract and generalized rules and procedures that may not fit individual circumstances.

Unfortunately, the ‘efficiency argument’ has become the principal driver for mediation, particularly in the context of court-connected mediation.  This thinking is now so prevalent that it has become received wisdom.  It was not always so.

Some 40 years ago, at the inception of mediation processes in community centres in North America, the unique benefit of mediation was seen in terms of its potential for re-orienting people in conflict back towards each other in order that they can decide whether and how to handle their own issues.

This distinct value of mediation is a driving force in those approaches that are relational and that focus on party choice and openness to other.

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