Many mediators have distinctive styles, and John has dealt with them all, but it is the mediations themselves that have their distinct characters. No mediator should impose a “style” on the dispute or the parties. In some cases, one (or many) joint sessions are necessary; in others, they are useless time entries for all professionals involved. Is it truly a binary, fixed-pie dispute? Is it possible that exploration might uncover previously unknown common interests buried under the surface? Is it inevitably a “salami-slicing” exercise, or might the parties pivot to a more principles/interests-based approach? Should the mediator express any views about the merits of the respective positions, or simply explore the parties’ convictions?
John’s philosophy is that the parties are the ones mediating; the mediator works for them, and should facilitate that mediation however best suits the parties and their circumstances. Though the mediator may advise on what process might be most effective, ultimately he or she simply plays a role in the parties’ mediation. No single approach is appropriate without proper regard for the dispute and the personalities involved. Mediators are taught to keep the parties looking forward, but sometimes what is past is prologue and history matters. Some mediations can be concluded with a series of telephone calls in a day, while others require months of joint sessions and caucuses, and the amount in dispute rarely dictates the process, or at least it should not. Finally, some mediators advertise their record for single-day resolutions, but fail to mention that these entail unwelcome mediator proposals and/or impositions of the mediator’s will on the merits. Although happy to do so, John will never convey a view of the merits, or his own settlement proposal, unless and until unanimously requested by the parties.
John structures his fees as a mediator in one of three ways: traditional commercial hourly, conditional (i.e., only if settlement is reached) and, in appropriate cases, pro bono. One example of an acute need for mediation is the area of domestic relations, especially where the dispute (e.g., a divorce) involves children and custody issues. From personal experience with international proceedings in this area, he believes that these disputes involve both complex arrays of financial and emotional issues, and profound opportunities to find common ground hidden under emotional friction. The toll these lost opportunities may cause to children can be devastating. Without a neutral mediator to explore solutions, two parents who love their children and want the best for them can easily be the cause of permanent damage because they are blinded by the intensity of their temporary conflict. Mediations in this area are too rare and perfunctory. John is happy to consider ways to help parties (and their children) avoid the trauma that family conflict can inflict, and may do so free of charge.
John is an Accredited Mediator with the Centre for Effective Dispute Resolution (CEDR), and an ARIAS-US Certified Mediator.