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Suitability for Transformative Mediation

Suitability for Transformative Mediation

What types of disputes are most suitable for transformative mediation?



Full Transcript

The easiest work for me to find has been divorce and parenting disputes. Although I’d say, as of now, half of my work is workplace disputes. You may have heard about the U.S. Postal Service’s redress programme, which is committed to the transformative model. So I do some of that work and I have a few other organisations that call me in for disputes that are pre-litigation. They’re just workplace conflicts. But I also get a slow trickle of litigated cases in all different areas. My real preference would be to be breaking into that world more thoroughly. The cases I’ve done where there have been lawyers on both sides in some, often business dispute, have gone incredibly well and I’ve been very lucky, I think, that they’ve gone so well because obviously it really depends on the parties. But it turns out a three-hour conversation, even with lawyers present, even with extremely strong feelings on both sides, very often leads to all kinds of wonderful things including, by the way, a settlement. But the lawyers often are comfortable with it.


I just had one recently where within three hours there was an agreement at the end as well as weeping on both sides and an actual hug between the plaintiff and the defendant. Your wildest dreams of how beautifully it can go came true. And I asked one of the lawyers who was there afterward how he felt about that process and he said, ‘Well, you know, I prefer to have the process where we’re kept separate from the other side and where it’s a little bit more under control.’ So he didn’t even appreciate that what happened in that session certainly would not have happened in a shuttle diplomacy approach. And what’s more, a shuttle diplomacy approach would have been scheduled for a full day and that’s where there would have been a settlement that both sides were bitter about. And so he, even though it was right before his eyes didn’t appreciate how powerful that was. So it’s a tough sell to the legal community.

About the mediator

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As a teacher and practitioner of the transformative approach, Dan helps parties have a constructive conversation about their differences. He received his law degree, cum laude, from the University of Minnesota School of Law, his M.A. in Counseling Psychology from the University of Minnesota, and his B.A., with honors, from the University of California at Berkeley. Although he is licensed to practice law in Minnesota, he prefers to practice mediat... View Mediator