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An LLM in Mediation

An LLM in Mediation

Why did you set up the Mediation LLM course at Strathclyde University?



Full Transcript

I did a Master’s myself at Birkbeck College in 2005-2006 with Lorraine Schaffer and that was fantastic. For me it was like somebody opening a whole lot of boxes of treasure and giving me access to that. When I came back to Scotland – that was in London – I suppose I was left with that sense of, ‘We should have one. We should do this.’ So that became my goal for the next few years.


The thinking behind it has been to . . . Initially it was to provide practitioners with a critical, theoretical foundation. I suppose my profound belief would be that we cannot think enough, we can’t think critically enough, we can’t have enough knowledge and models and ways of doing things, because it’s an incredibly complex activity. When you’re actually in the mediator chair, a very, very wide range of things coming at you. Certainly my own experience would be the wider my reading, the wider my sense of ways of doing things, the less likely I am to be like a rabbit caught in the headlights, being stuck.


So that was the driver, it was to provide mediators with as much depth as possible. Also, to create an interest in creating a body of critical writing mediation that’s native to these shores. We don’t really have . . . It’s beginning. We certainly don’t have enough of it. So that was another driver. Could we have a group of people who had a more informed critical academic underpinning for the mediation activity? To start creating a body of knowledge and a body of research.


I guess I did buy into . . . this is part of Lorraine’s vision, that she was equally passionate about, that the how-to approach to mediation has some limits. I’m possibly not quite as angry as she was. She was very passionate about this. I think a five-day how-to course can be incredibly useful and incredibly helpful. I’m not here to knock that, but I think I agreed that there was something potentially quite limiting about that.


My friend Ewan Malcolm, he talks about courses like that. I’ve delivered those courses as providing new mediators with handrails. Handrails are incredibly useful when you’re beginning, when you’re a beginner. Supposing you break a leg and you need handrails as you’re doing your physio. There comes a point when you start to walk confidently again, where you’re letting go of the handrails.


I would buy into that and my sense is that experienced practitioners are weaving a much, much more interesting and complex path through people’s conflicts than any of the how-to models would let you know.

About the mediator

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A solicitor and former professional musician, Charlie Irvine has developed Strathclyde Law School’s LLM/MSc in Mediation and Conflict Resolution, on which he is Course Leader and Senior Teaching Fellow. Additional teaching duties include an Elective in Mediation for PEAT1 students; Negotiation and Mediation on Strathclyde’s LLM in Advocacy; Negotiation on the Clinical LLB; and Legal Process for undergraduates. He has also founded Universi... View Mediator