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The Understanding Model of Mediation

The Understanding Model of Mediation

What was Gary Friedman teaching in his workshop?



Full Transcript

He has a very particular model, very controversial in the United States. It’s very similar to my negotiation model. His model is called “the understanding model of mediation”. The core of it is to get the parties to understand each other – an empathy based model. Out of an understanding of each other and their underlying needs and interests, they will frame a solution that is particular to them.


His particular technique is that, he says, he never caucuses. He never meets separately with the parties. He is, in essence, helping them solve their own problem by being a pure facilitative mediator.


It was controversial because the model that developed around the same time on the other coast in Washington, DC with two other founders of our field, Michael Lewis and Linda Singer, now at JAMS in the United States, they began training commercial lawyers, litigators, people doing big litigation in Washington, DC. They developed a totally different model which is the more common model in the United States now, beginning with an opening session, an hors-d’oeuvre or the beginning, as it were, to learn what the parties needed from each other, sort of a statement of the case.


Then they would go immediately to shuttle diplomacy. On the theory that when everyone is in the same room together, they won’t say what they really want. So that model is premised on, “We, the mediators, will find out what’s really driving the dispute. We’ll listen to the parties and then we’ll help structure a solution.” They wouldn’t have called it that in the early days, but it really was the beginning of a more evaluative and a more active model by the mediators.


I think court programmes prefer that because it was more active. I would say, we never studied it empirically, probably more likely to produce a solution quicker that was also more shallow, not as deep from a human relations perspective.

About the mediator

Carrie Menkel-Meadow Profile Pic

Carrie Menkel-Meadow is Chancellor’s Professor of Law and Political Science, University of California Irvine Law School, and A.B. Chettle Jr. Professor of Law, Dispute Resolution and Civil Procedure at Georgetown University Law Center, where she teaches a variety of international and domestic dispute resolution courses, including Negotiation, Mediation, International Dispute Resolution, International Legal Analysis, Comparative Constitutionalis... View Mediator

  • Kate

    Natural search and links to other sites… generating 12,000 cases a month – that is truly amazing. Great interview. James would love to understand the baseline technology; is RESOLVER your own or is it based on MODRIA (for example)? I work in Family Law (I’m a Family Consultant) and am setting up a business that uses ODR in Family setting. Can we connect?