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The International Mediation Institute – Mediation as a Profession

The International Mediation Institute – Mediation as a Profession

There is no question that mediators and users of mediation would benefit from greater rigour and consistency when it comes to standards of practice. The field of mediation is however split when it comes to the idea of regulating or professionalising mediators. Can we drive standards to meet the needs of the business consumer? Do we need a professional body to accomplish this? If so who and how would be able to accomplish this mammoth endeavour? In this interview Debbie Masucci, chair of the International Mediation Institute (IMI) talks about the vision of IMI and how their focus on listening to the end user will help drive standards for mediation globally.

The International Mediation Institute (IMI) was established in 2007 with the aim of promoting consensus and access to justice as well as promoting professional mediation standards worldwide. IMI is a non for profit organisation that is funded entirely by public and private donations. Donors include the American Arbitration Association (AAA), Centre for Effective Dispute Resolution (CEDR), JAMS and the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC).

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Full Transcript

Aled Davies: Hi, everyone. My name is Aled Davies, founder of, home of the passionate mediator. You know what we do on here. This is the place where we interview the very best mediators and thought leaders from right around the world. We learn about new opportunities in the field of mediation, as well as how to sharpen our skills, develop our thinking and stay ahead of the game.

The big question for today’s interview is this: Should we collectively try and forge mediation as a free-standing profession? If so, where should we start and how should we go about doing this?

My guest today is currently Chair and Board member of the International Mediation Institute, and was former Chair of the ABA Section for Dispute Resolution. She also serves as a full-time arbitrator and mediator. She was recently Head of AIG’s Employment Dispute Resolution Programme.

She was recruited to AIG in 2003 to establish its Office of Dispute Resolution in the Litigation Management Division, where she was responsible for the strategic use of ADR and increasing the effective methods of appropriate dispute resolution used within the Claims Organisation. She’s a global expert in ADR and dispute management, with over 30 years experience in promoting the effective use of ADR in many capacities. She’s a published author on ADR issues and frequently speaks on the topic at legal and bar association meetings.

It’s a pleasure to welcome Debbie Masucci on to Mediator Academy. Debbie, a warm welcome.

Masucci: Thank you so much, Aled. It’s such a pleasure to be here and to talk to you about my favourite subject – alternative dispute resolution, which mediation is a big part of.

Aled: Yes, indeed. We’re going to get right stuck in in a moment, but first I have to ask you this: How did you first get into mediation and what ignited your passion for it?

Debbie: Well, it’s very interesting I did not get into mediation, what’s called the ‘traditional way.’ Out of law school, I was looking for a job. Keep in mind that I went to law school at night, while I was working during the day. I was working for a stock transfer agency, so I went at night. The only way I got introduced to ADR in law school was in an Administrative Law class. We talked about arbitration, labour arbitration, at the AAA. Coming out of law school, that was my only context with ADR. Looking for a job, it was the early 70s . . . No, early 80s. I was having a hard time finding a job. I went for an interview at the National Association of Securities Dealers. That organisation is now called FINRA, F-I-N-R-A.

Aled: Yes.

Debbie: The Human Resources person met me, looked at me and looked at my resumÈ, and said, ‘You know, the job you applied for may not really be on target for you, but we have an arbitration department. Maybe you’d like to interview for a job in that department.’ I said, ‘Why not?’

So I went and interviewed for the arbitration department position and it was one of those days where it was a group interview. All of the people in the department interviewed me. It came down to another candidate and myself, and guess what? The other candidate got the job. That evening someone who was going to be my future boss called up and he’s on the phone. He said, ‘Tell me you haven’t taken another job.’ I said – little did he know I had no other prospects – but I said, ‘Oh, you know, I have a lot of irons in the fire and I’m just waiting to hear from some. ‘Don’t take the job, because I’m going to get another job’, and lo and behold, he had another position authorised and was able to hire me.

Aled: Okay.

Debbie: At the time, we’re talking about 1981-2 and this was pre- the strong push of ADR within the United States, the department was nine people in this one office and they had about 400 cases. Two years later, my boss leaves and I apply for his job. I came in with a plan of what I thought the department should look like. Lo and behold, I was actually promoted over people with much more experience.

Then in the United States the Shearson v. McMahon . . .

Aled: Hold on a second, hold on a second. There must have been something in your plan that got them interested, right?

Debbie: Well, it was an organisational plan on how to structure the department in a more efficient way. How to address customer needs, because our customers were public customers. These were in the days when investors would file claims in the arbitration department because they wanted to, not because they were forced to. They didn’t sign an enforceable pre-dispute arbitration agreement.

That all changed in 1987, when the U.S. Supreme Court decided the case of McMahon versus Shearson, where they basically said, because of SEC, Securities and Exchange Commission, oversight and other things, that although these were contracts of adhesion, that they were appropriate and they were enforceable.

Aled: So . . .

Debbie: After that . . .

Aled: Sorry, Debbie. I just wondered . . . It’s interesting, addressing customer needs. Because I’m sure later on, when we talk about increasing participation in mediation, I know this is something really important for you. Meeting, providing a service that meets the customer needs, not what we think the customers need.

Debbie: Absolutely.

Aled: Sorry, I’m fascinated. Okay, go on.

Debbie: We’ll retain that thought. Knowing that this decision was made, I met with my boss and I said, ‘We’re not going to be able to handle, in arbitration, all of these cases. We have to look for an alternative way to resolve disputes and I keep hearing people talk about mediation.’ So what we did, was we invited a few organisations to come in and pilot mediation at the NASD. This was about 1988.

I stayed at the NASD 17 years. By the time I left, our caseload went from the 400 I mentioned, arbitration caseload, to over 8,000 cases. We instituted, or integrated, mediation into the process. We were encouraging, and basically, getting both investors and the broker dealer community comfortable with the process of mediation.

Aled: Yeah.

Debbie: We had a very vibrant mediation department. We had offices in six cities with 150 staff people. But 17 years in one place was a long time. I felt that my focus in the securities area was too narrow, so I left and tried to figure out what I wanted to do next.

What that led me to was a position at JAMS, the resolution experts. I was hired at JAMS to lead their East Coast region. I was responsible for recruiting mediators, many of whom were former judges, business development, staff development, and again, making sure the process went well.

Aled: Yeah.

Debbie: Keep in mind, my orientation previously was heavily arbitration. JAMS, at the time, only performed mediation service. This was my opportunity to learn about commercial mediation, employment mediation and other types of using mediation effectively and learning it from the experts. I was there for four years. I also developed training programmes for the mediators and staff.

I then was recruited to work for AIG and that’s also an interesting story. But through working for JAMS and then working for AIG, that’s where my passion for mediation really sparked. Keep in mind, during that same period of time I was very active in the American Bar Association’s Dispute Resolution section.

Aled: Right.

Debbie: I was like a sponge, just learning everything I could about dispute resolution processes and how they can be used effectively, and brought that learning into each of the organisations that I worked for.

Aled: Yeah.

Debbie: I was there at AIG for ten years and I instituted a dispute resolution programme that did three things. We trained our claims people to effectively use mediation in the claims that they were responsible for. I consulted with our groups on establishing mediation programmes. If they had a bulk of cases, or if they needed to institute a new process, we would work together on establishing the process to meet the needs of the individual departments.

Aled: Okay.

Debbie: The third is that we developed business intelligence about the mediators and arbitrators who were frequently, and maybe not so infrequently, used, so that the next person who wanted to use that individual mediator would have some context and background about the experiences of prior claims professionals.

It became a very fulsome bank when I left AIG. I think we had over a thousand people in that bank. Remember one thing, too, it was not to blacklist any mediators. It was really to give information about how to use this person effectively.

Aled: Yeah.

Debbie: Since then, I’ve been mediating and arbitrating on my own.

Aled: Yeah.

Debbie: When I was at AIG, I was also recruited to the board of the International Mediation Institute. That brought me to another level, finding context of using mediation globally in the corporate context. That’s been very exciting, working with people throughout the world on broader expansion and understanding of what mediation is, what is it intended to do, creating standards that can be applied globally. So that a corporation who’s in Nigeria, or Singapore, or Hungary, when they talk about mediation, it has the same context that they’re discussing.

As I think many of your viewers know, IMI has also established a certification programme, or certification standards, that are applied regionally and locally by qualified assessment programmes. Again, so that when a corporation, or a user, goes from country to country, they know that the same standards are applied to the mediators in all of those different countries.

Last year, IMI established Mediation Advocacy Certification. I believe that that’s even more important because in many instances, the user, this is the one time, maybe the two times they’re going to use mediation, but their lawyer will be using it much more for a broader band of their clients. So the lawyer must really know how to advocate in the mediation context and how that’s different from a trial lawyer. How to best serve their client.

Aled: Could you explain the differences between mediation and mediation advocacy?

Debbie: The mediator certification goes through standards, understanding of the problem-solving concepts, actually using the mediation process, designing a process that meets the needs of a particular party. Engage them, understanding that there is a difference between facilitative and evaluative, and maybe that the best mediators use all of these processes, they’re not limited to one.

Remembering that it’s party determination so that it’s the parties’ process, not the mediator’s process. The mediator shouldn’t be foisting his or her beliefs on the parties, and looking at what closure meets in mediation.

It’s the basic understanding of how mediation works in order to be certified through a qualified assessment programme. They have their own individual requirements. That’s a combination of training and actual experience that creates what is on the IMI website, which is a digest that’s drawn from user feedback, that describes how this mediator interacted with them and whether it was good, bad or indifferent.

Aled: Okay.

Debbie: It’s a great resource, one that I used when I was at AIG to understand the mediator. The same criteria for mediator certification is used for mediation advocacy, but the experience that the advocate brings is that of an advocate or adviser. Someone who is working for the party in the mediation context, while the mediator is bringing the parties together.

Aled: I got you. I’ve got you now. Okay. So really, helping advisers and lawyers representing parties in mediation to get the most out of the process.

Debbie: Correct, correct. Remember, when I was teaching at AIG that’s really what I was teaching the claims professionals. How do you get the most out of this process so that you can reach the best result? Not for the least money, but the right result for that particular case. Then, sometimes, using mediation to get the information that they need. Don’t just give up, but try to get more information because, there’s a reason why the other side has evaluated their claim differently than you do.

Aled: Yeah, yeah. Tell me, what sort of interest have you seen in this mediation advocacy training?

Debbie: We have, in the mediation advocacy certification, I think we have close to 400 individuals that are going to be, I hate the term, but they will be ‘qualified’ based on their past experience.

Aled: Right.

Debbie: They’re slowly coming through now to be certified and they’re being shown on the IMI website. But that’s going to be a slow process. We know that because it was slow to get people to understand mediator certification, especially in the United States. As a result, it’s going to be a slow process.

Aled: Your experiences with the securities department – organisation and your experience, then, with the AIG, they seem like almost microcosms of what we need to do in society. We’ve got all these conflicts, all these disputes, and we’ve got some capable people to be able to handle these disputes in a way that’s really effective. How do we get them together?

Debbie: Well, that’s why I think the IMI website is probably the best way to get them together. Because it is an international organisation, it’s transparent, it’s available to everyone. Loads of resources available on the IMI website, also, for free that will help this.

Aled: Yeah.

Debbie: It’s almost as if, in each of the situations that I’ve been, I’ve started with designing the right process for the organisation that I was with. Then that process grew, as people within the organisations understood what they can do with it and were thirsting for more information and more education on how to do this the right way.

Aled: Yeah.

Debbie: I’ve always said that when we get to arbitration or litigation, that something has broken down and that’s where the expenses start egging up so we should really be in a posture to try to resolve it much earlier.

On the other hand, we also have to recognise, and this is probably where I depart from many of these mediation advocates, not every case should and can be mediated. There are situations where you want to develop a precedent, where the parties . . . it’s just not the right time, you know, I keep talking about doing it as early as possible, it’s not the right time.

People have to expand their idea that mediation may not be the be–all end–all, but just part of a process that everyone goes through.

Aled: Yeah. You’re preaching to the converted here. Let me ask you this question, then. Why isn’t mediation more widely adopted as a solution for resolving disputes in the different areas of society?

Debbie: Well, there are two things . . . there are many things that are working into this. Through my career, and when you said 30 years, every time I hear that, I say, ‘No, I can’t be that old.’

I’ve met with people throughout the world and I talk about mediation and their answer is, ‘Oh, we do that’ but they don’t call it mediation. So we’ve got to understand that mediation is occurring, but it may not be defined the way we define it. As a result, we’re not capturing all of that data and information.

Secondly, the legal systems, and this is something that everybody on this webcast knows about, legal systems are different. In the United States, mediation was really pushed because of the costliness of litigation and the fact that our court systems were overburdened.

Outside the United States, the legal systems are such, it’s not the same. But what we’re trying to do, what’s trying to push the use of mediation outside the United States, is those global companies who need to do business in countries where they don’t trust the legal system. So that, eventually, will be pushing mediation, but we need to develop the structure within those countries to support mediation.

If a country doesn’t have that structure in place, qualified mediators, court systems that support the process, educated people who understand the process, then it’s like walking into a blind pool.

One of the things that IMI is trying to do, and we’ve successfully done it in Singapore, is develop a relationships with organisations and create IMI-like entities. So in Singapore we now have the Singapore International Mediation Institute. They are locally instituting the credentialling and the structure that I just talked about in the East Asia area.

Now we’re working on similar initiatives in Africa, in South America, and in Eastern Europe. Those will push, but all of these take time. I think that the fact that people are connecting more by Skype and other online means, will push it even faster, but there’s still a lot of resistance.

Aled: Yeah.

Debbie: We could look at the EU directive. Think about it, why isn’t mediation used more in the European Union? The answer may be the structure of the EU directive, which basically says to the States, ‘Develop mediation, but do it your own way.’ So you have everybody running around, experimenting in different ways and it’s just not sparking the way it should. But that also may go back to the legal structure in the European Union.

Aled: Yeah. So it’s not necessarily a ‘Build it and they will come’ approach with the IMI, is it?

Debbie: No it’s not.

Aled: Okay.

Debbie: It’s really indoctrinating people and getting them to speak using the same words, but understanding the cultural differences and the cultural applications that might be very different.

Aled: Yeah. I know that you’re . . . this is coming back to very early on in the interview, where you were focused on addressing customer needs and crafting particular solutions that address their needs. I think you’re taking some of that philosophy into IMI, in that you’re wanting to really understand what the users need, what they value, what their perspective is, and what’s important to them.

Debbie: Right. One of the things I keep on saying to people that the way we do mediation in the United States may or may not be the way it has to be done outside the United States. We have to be careful that we’re not spreading an American initiative because it isn’t. Mediation is really for everyone and it is practised differently wherever we go.

We also feel, and I know you’ve read some of the blog pieces that I have, that mediation right now is stalled in many respects. We don’t see the major push, which is why IMI has a new initiative. It’s called the Global Pound Conference. It was started last year, last October, in London with a conference called Shaping the Future of Alternative Dispute Resolution. Focused, again, on what do users want out of the process? And where do they see their needs going in the future?

If we constantly push mediation, that’s only one tool. Maybe it’s something else in the future. So we learned a lot from the conference in October. In fact, you can go on the IMI website and see all of the data that was generated from it, leading us to believe that there’s a difference of viewpoint between the actual user, the provider of the mediation services, and academics on what mediation should be. But we think that that was just a snapshot. We’ve got to do it more globally.

Aled: Yeah.

Debbie: From the end of this year through 2016, the idea is to put together 15 or more of these conferences worldwide. We’ve already gotten a lot of interest from Australia, Singapore, just to name two countries, where people can convene and answer 15 questions that will be used for every one of these conferences.

In addition, they could also supplement regional specific questions so that they can tailor it to their individual countries. People who cannot physically attend the conference will be able to electronically attend and listen, and answer, and participate in all of the questions. This way we’re going to be creating even more data and that can be used to guide the ADR community in the future.

Aled: You said 15 questions. Have you got any of those questions you can share?

Debbie: Well, again, if we go back on the IMI website and look at Shaping the Future, we’ll probably start with some of those questions and then scrub them down, because we learned that some of them weren’t very artfully worded, so some of the information wasn’t as prominent.

Things like, When do you use mediation? What types of cases do you use it in? What other types of dispute resolution do you look for? What do you look for from providers? What should providers be offering to users? Is ADR even helpful? Those are some of the contexts. It will expand, again, based on how the questions are framed and continued.

Aled: Yeah. So the conference in London, who were the user base there?

Debbie: We had major corporations, major global corporations, from corporations in the insurance industry, GE was there, Shell was there, so the global energy and insurance. There were a few other companies that’s not coming to mind . . . but really global companies who use ADR.

I just want to point out one thing about that forum, too. We learnt that from a corporate point of view, they believe that the corporation is pushing dispute resolution and that they’re working with the business early on to resolve the dispute. From the legal point of view, from the law firm point of view, they think they’re pushing ADR, but the timing doesn’t seem to mesh.

Aled: Yeah.

Debbie: There’s a lot of contradictory information that we got out of the meeting.

Aled: Okay. So is IMI’s primary mandate to look at civil and commercial mediation? Or does it intend to broaden out to things like community or matrimonial, divorce, family, community?

Debbie: It broadens out into the community and other areas of dispute resolution. I will admit, since I come from a corporate background, whether it was the securities industry or the insurance industry, my emphasis has been more on the commercial business side. There are many certified mediators, who are community mediators, serve in the family law context and we’re trying to beef up that area, too.

Aled: Okay. The original question I thought we might ponder together, is the question around to what extend should we try and establish mediation as a free-standing profession? And if we should, how do we go about doing that? I know it’s a heavy-duty question, but let’s give it a stamp.

Debbie: It’s really a hard question. I know that, again, in the United States the pushback has been very, very big. Let’s face it, the best mediator is someone that the parties trust. It’s not someone who’s gone through a 50-hour training course or speaks the mediation language. It’s someone who they can trust to help them resolve their disputes and that’s why mediation has so many different definitions.

Look at Nelson Mandela or look at the Popes, they mediate every day. It’s really called peacemaking, so that’s why it’s hard when you look at the context of mediation to say, ‘We want everybody to be certified and we want it to be a profession.’

On the other hand, if it doesn’t develop into a profession, it will not have the stature and recognition that is necessary to propel it. In the United States we’ve got many court systems that ‘certify’ mediators and they ‘certify’ the mediators for their courts. They have specified requirements. It ranges anywhere from the training to actual mediation and doing those cases, and continuing training. But the courts are really looking at that because of their little areas.

We don’t want mediation, also, to become a purely legal system. There are many types of mediation that are done by non-lawyers and that’s why the Mediation Advocacy certification says ‘advocacy/adviser’ so that non-lawyers are put into the mix. So it’s going to be a balancing act, as we develop it as a profession, to make sure that it is inclusive, and includes people of varying talents and varying backgrounds, so that it’s not marginalised by being solely a legal process.

We also make sure that it’s used before a legal process is initiated, and that also means that it has be more inclusive. Those are just a snapshot of some of the challenges as we start to develop it into a profession.

Aled: Yeah. It strikes me as something that’s going to be a long game, rather than over and done with soon.

Debbie: Oh, absolutely. One of the pieces I call it ‘the Big Bang.’ We’re looking for another Big Bang. You know, Michael Leathes, who’s one of the founders of the International Mediation Institute, he’s really been prophetic. He’s really pushed and been on a mission for all of his life on promoting mediation and he sees a lot of spikes and then lulls. Right now, I think we’re in a lull.

Aled: Yeah.

Debbie: But I think in a few years we’re going to be in another spike, if we do it right.

Aled: Yeah. It feels like we’re making . . . Again, I’m not going to call it a profession, I think we’re a field of . . . we’re a band of . . . a rabble of do-gooders.

Debbie: That’s a good way to define it, yeah.

Aled: We’re a rabble of do-gooders, with good intentions, you know. But sometimes ‘Good intention doesn’t sanitise bad impact’. I think is an expression. So the impact needs to be aligned with the intent. I digress. I feel like we’re making a little bit of progress, but it’s like we’re nibbling away at something.

You know, whether there’s a big explosion, we’re a long way off a tipping point, but I’m hopeful that there’s going to be a tipping point. What do you see are the main milestones in this journey to reach that tipping point?

Debbie: Well, when I, again, when I think of the American experience it was really, the growth, was really pushed by the courts. It started in California, where they had huge dockets and the judges said, ‘We’ve got to do something.’ Former judges left the bench and started mediation programmes and their fellow judges referred the cases. It brought the dockets down.

There have been a lot of experiments throughout the United States. I would say that many of the ‘mandatory’ programmes might have been the most successful. But today we’re going to have a debate and this comes out of the experience in Italy, about whether mandatory is really the right approach.

Aled: Yeah.

Debbie: In Italy you had the lawyers go on strike. Who ever heard of lawyers going on strike? Because mediation was mandated. But there you have it. There’s going to be these continual hard discussions about what’s the best way to promote it. There has to be more of a groundswell from the users themselves that say, ‘Yes, we want to use it’ and, ‘Yes, we want to find the best people to facilitate the process.’

I always like to say that the insurance industry is the largest consumer of ADR. They use it from small claims to large claims. They use it in the United States that way. They don’t use it outside the United States very much, but then again, maybe that’s because their litigation docket is not as large outside the United States. So the milestone there is identifying why mediation, and how mediation should be used in the context of countries where there is low litigation, low court intervention.

Aled: Yeah. How do we incentivise people to participate in it? I was having this conversation very recently with the Chair of the Civil Mediation Council about the idea of one having to opt out of mediation, rather than having to choose to opt in to mediation.

Debbie: That’s a very, very good technique to try. Yes.

Aled: The assumption is that one would, in the first instance, try and sit around the table, metaphorically speaking, and have a facilitated meeting. If that doesn’t work, then go to plan B. Or choose to bypass, or to opt out of that process, but having to make that conscious choice to go, ‘Here’s a menu of options. The first one on your plate is the mediation option, the ADR option. It looks lovely, it looks very nutritious and nourishing, but there’s the evil chocolate cake in the background, the litigation cake. Not particularly good for you, but in some cases, it can be very nourishing.’ I’m speaking in metaphor now.

Debbie: Well, there is that concept. I love the concept of opting out, because most people will then end up going through the process and not opt out. I think they’ll find a lot of the benefits that way. But there are a myriad of other ways to go about it. That’s one, and maybe that’s what the Italians were thinking about when they instituted their law, but it didn’t really work that well.

Aled: Yeah. Okay. I think, really, understanding the needs of the user. It sounds like insurance is the largest consumer of ADR in the U.S. Shouldn’t we be trying to identify big sectors, big markets where we can get some influence as a group, as a body, and get you to do your stuff on that macro level?

Debbie: Well, that’s true. The other area that I think about when I think about huge users of ADR is the construction area. The problem in the construction area, and the decline of the use of ADR, has really been because construction starts have lulled because of the economy. That’s another barrier to mediation. The economy doesn’t help. So there is the construction industry.

When I mentioned earlier that we’re looking at countries or sectors, regions, to develop IMI presence in Africa, the oil and gas industry is really pushing the use of mediation. So, yes, sectors of industries will really push the process.

I also think that community mediation, and the way communities use it, will push it because it will expand the understanding on a personal basis of what mediation means and how it can be helped. I’ll go to current affairs. I think it’s been in the news throughout the world, of demonstrations in Baltimore and other cities.

Aled: Yeah.

Debbie: There could be people in those communities trained to hold conversations, so that they would diffuse the anger and diffuse all of the problems in those cities, but also make a plan for the future. Again, this goes back to what I said earlier. When I got the job, to the head of department at the Head of the AIG, I had a plan and trained facilitators. I’m not using the word ‘mediator’, because it’s a mediation-like function. These are trained facilitators who help the conversation, again, diffuse the anger and help parties look to the future and put up a process together, to bring in money to use and build the infrastructure and eliminate the frustrations that they have in those locations. So the community is a good place, a good sector that we have to focus on and that will push mediation in the future.

Aled: It’s interesting the use of a facilitator. There is an initiative in British Columbia that’s just kicking off now, where they’ve got this, it’s called the . . . Oh, it escapes me, but it’s basically an online platform for resolving condominium disputes, whereby parties. . . Let’s say, ‘I’ve got a dispute with you and you’re my neighbour. I can go on to this website and it takes me through a series of different processes. First of all, it gives me some more information. Second of all, if that’s not good enough to resolve my dispute with you, it makes some suggestions about what I could do. It helps me draft a letter, or an email, of correspondence to you, in a way that doesn’t inflame the situation, but lays out my concerns in a way that’s helpful and then you can respond. Then, if we need the help of a third party . . .’ They don’t call them mediators, they call them facilitators because then . . .

Debbie: Right.

Aled: It’s quite interesting they’ve specifically had a long debate about the language they use and reached the conclusion that facilitator was the best description. Yeah.

Debbie: Yeah. Experiments like that, or processes like that, might help or hinder the growth of mediation. They help by educating and getting people involved and used to the process. They hinder it by not using the word ‘mediation’ or ‘mediator’, because then, when someone who’s just had that process is faced with an opportunity to use a mediator, they have to re-learn it all again.

But the online area is another growth area that I think we’re going to see substantial change in the near future. Not only are companies using the process in the way you fashion it. Colin Rule has been an innovator in that area. The eBay users’ dispute resolution process, a lot of different companies. Amazon has a dispute resolution process, too. But we’re going to be using it for actual mediations.

I actually did a class where I did a mock mediation. I was the mediator and I had students participating from Mexico, East Asia, Europe, and the United States. We had private chat rooms. We all know that, in order for a mediation to be successful, the right parties have to be participating and the parties with authority. Sometimes that doesn’t happen and this would be a great way to make it happen. In fact, the case that I had actually settled.

Aled: Yeah.

Debbie: So technology is [inaudible 00:46:30] in the growth of mediation and is going to be the added push to make it much more acceptable.

Aled: Yeah, I think you’re right. I think technology is going to have a big influence on the direction that mediation goes. I mean, I’ve interviewed Colin a couple of times now, and a whole bunch of them. Real smart folks. Something like 60 million disputes last year, just within the eBay community.

Debbie: Right.

Aled: It goes to show that conflict is a growth business.

Debbie: Well, that and . . . One of the initiatives that I’ve been working on is to get UNCITRAL to develop a convention to acknowledge, or enforce, mediated settlements cross-border. That will, again, if that happens, and we’re working hard to make it happen, that will raise the recognition of mediation as a valid process. This goes back to profession. Arbitration is looked at as a profession. Arbitrators are looked at as professionals.

Mediation seems to be a stepchild and has not had the recognition in the legal community. So by the UN adopting an enforcement mechanism similar to the Arbitration Convention, the New York Convention, will also be an added push. So we’re talking about all these little things that will create a volcano effect that will push mediation. But they all have to be in place.

Aled: Yeah. Okay. I’m aware we’re running out of time and you’ve been really generous with your time, Debbie. I’ve just got one question. If you think about the legacy you want to leave at IMI, what would that be?

Debbie: Oh, dear. That’s a hard one.

Aled: Just a little, easy one to finish up with.

Debbie: Well, I will tell you. IMI has been hindered by the perception that it is solely a European creation, that all it is, is something created for Europe. If I could change that and really make IMI perceived to be a resource globally in the United States, in South-East Asia, in Africa, in South America, that would be what I would like to see. I would like to see that happen and I would like to be the person to make that happen.

Aled: That’s a great aspiration. Wonderful.

Debbie: Maybe a big one.

Aled: Hey, dream big dreams. That’s what I say.

Debbie: That’s right. It sure is.

Aled: Lovely. So, Debbie, if people want to find out a bit more about IMI and what they’re up to, where’s the best place to go?

Debbie: The website is and you will be able to access, on that website, information about the Global Pound Conference, so that you can know where that is going.

Aled: Okay.

Debbie: You will also see individuals on there who are part of our structure, our Board of Governors, our Advisory Council. Look at the mediators who are certified. You can search on the website and you will see that they come from 42 countries worldwide. You will see qualified assessment programmes worldwide, qualifying people. You will see resources that are for free, that you can access and use in your own daily work.

Aled: Yeah.
Debbie: And you can participate. IMI does have several LinkedIn groups. So go on LinkedIn and join one of the IMI LinkedIn groups, participate, let yourself be known, let your views be known, because that’s the only way we’re going to make this all happen.

Aled: Brilliant. If people want to contact you to say hello, say thank you, ask you any questions, where can they go?

Debbie: There are a few places. I have a website, it’s M-A-S-U-C-C-I My email there is . It . . .

Aled: Okay, I’ll stick it on the bottom.

Debbie: Or, I hate to give this one out, but my personal email . . .

Aled: Don’t give your personal email out, not just yet.

Debbie: Okay. You’re going to scrub that piece away, right? There’s a link on the IMI website, I do have an IMI email address that you can reach me at also.

Aled: Okay. Brilliant.

Debbie: There are multiple ways to reach Debbie Masucci, and there are multiple ways that I can find you, too.

Aled: Super stuff. Well . . .

Debbie: One last comment, Aled. I just want to acknowledge the work of many people worldwide, whether they’re current or past board members of the International Mediation Institute, or organisations.

I’d like to say that the IMI Board is the place where providers who are in competition for work come together for the good of the community and for the good of dispute resolution worldwide. I want to acknowledge also Michael Leathes, who established the organisation, was the first executive director and who’ll be leaving the organisation in May, at our board meeting. He’s going to be missed but we’ll hope to, kind of, pull him back every now and again and keep him engaged.

Without these pioneers and visionaries, we wouldn’t be where we are today. We have to find more of those visionaries, and we will.

Aled: Yes, indeed. Debbie Masucci, thank you very much.

Debbie: Thank you very much for having me. Have a great day.

Aled: Have a great day.

About the mediator

Deb Masucci Profile Pic

Deborah Masucci is currently Chair and Board Member of the International Mediation Institute (IMI) and was former Chair of the American Bar Association’s (ABA) Dispute Resolution Section with over 9,000 members worldwide. She is a Board member for Access ADR. She is a member of the International Arbitration Club of New York. She also serves as a full time arbitrator and mediator. Deborah was recruited to AIG in 2003 to establish its Office o... View Mediator