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President's Message - November 2014

President's Message - November 2014

Dear IAM Friends:

Have I ever mentioned that the IAM is just the best? What an amazing organization we have created here. It began simply enough as a vehicle for collegiality, collaboration, education and support for the world's finest mediators. (It's not that our spouses and other partners weren't thrilled to hear us wax eloquent about how we utilized a semi-joint session and a bracket to break an impasse, but still….) From that humble beginning, the IAM has become something amazing, which I guess shouldn't be a surprise. It's not like we are dealing with potted plants here. What we are seeing instead is the evolution of an organization of smart, dedicated people at the very top of their game. I want to share a few of the things that are going on with your organization.

IAM INFLUENCING ACADEMIC THOUGHT…AND VICE VERSA: Our members have always been at the forefront of the mediation profession, learning by doing, inventing and creating by necessity, and evolving the profession to encompass changes in society and the growing sophistication of parties and clients. (Frankly, it’s exhausting trying to stay one step ahead of those crafty litigators.) If you want to know what is happening in mediation around the world today, what works, what doesn’t, what problems emerge, what solutions are being tried, what tools are being developed, there is no better place to go than our membership. We’re inventing this stuff. This has not been lost on the academic world which is studying and seeking to understand today’s mediation, and exploring mediation’s future. Like chocolate and peanut butter, it was only a matter of time before the academic and the practical converged. That time is now.

A) PEPPERDINE: Our collaboration with one of the premier ADR think tanks in the world is well under way. Our Santa Monica conference was an opportunity to showcase that — and get some free swag from Pepperdine, like the cool Abraham Lincoln prints. Stay tuned for Tom Stipanowich’s presentation at our San Francisco conference as he begins to pull wisdom from the lengthy (and I mean lengthy!) surveys we all took this past year. But there is much more.

B) IAM BOOK: Initially inspired by Eric Galton, and with oversight by Lynne Bassis, the IAM is teaming with Stephanie Bell and Pepperdine to explore the development of a book based in part on the wisdom of the IAM. The opportunity for the IAM to influence the thinking of the mediation world, and for the book to provide national, and possibly international branding exposure to the IAM, all while adding a voice to the published mediation conversation that has so far been missing, is just too enticing for us to pass up. More information later as this project develops.

C) WINKLER COLLABORATION: Paul Iacono may have retired from the Board of Governors, but he is still a force that cannot be tamed. Case in point: the Winkler Institute. Named for and inspired by the former Chief Justice of Ontario Warren K. Winkler, and operating in conjunction with the Osgoode Hall Law School in Toronto, the Winkler Institute is dedicated to pushing "research boundaries in the service of exploring and improving all forms of dispute resolution,” among other things. The IAM has collaborated with the Institute already through a joint CLE program that was an unparalleled success, further marking the IAM as the preeminent organization of mediators in the world. Many of our members served on panels and shared their brilliance to a sold-out crowd. Jon Fidler has now taken over the reins and is already planning the next joint IAM/Winkler conference. Additional ventures with Winkler are possible as the Institute progresses into original research and other areas of teaching.

D) SCHOLAR IN RESIDENCE (SIR): Canada is stealing the spotlight. Again. Cliff Hendler has come up with his most brilliant idea since the rap song he sang(?) at one of our conferences many years ago. Working with Ben Picker, Eric Van Loon, and Professor Hal Abramson, Cliff has introduced the idea of an IAM Scholar In Residence, or SIR. The idea is, much like the collaboration with Pepperdine (or the Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup), to meld the academic with the practical, to "help bridge any gap between theory and practice by considering how theories and studies can inform the practice of mediation as well as how the practice of mediation can test and inform theories and studies.” We would do this by inviting a faculty member specializing in ADR to become the IAM Scholar In Residence for a year who would collaborate with the IAM on topics of mutual interest. The details of the SIR program are still being developed, but the potential is unbounded. Think of what the SIR could bring to our conferences, and what we could bring to the better understanding of mediation around the world.

San Francisco: May 7-9, 2015. Don’t miss it.
Baltimore: Fall 2015. A treat in the making.
Beautiful and Amazing and Exciting Queenstown, New Zealand: Spring 2016, probably end of February or early March. Details forthcoming. Start planning for it!


A) New Members: We are so pleased and honored to welcome our newest Fellows and Distinguished Fellows into the IAM. It is because of talented and formidable mediators like these that the IAM remains the preeminent organization for commercial mediators on the planet. It is with great enthusiasm that I welcome these esteemed colleagues into our organization (in reverse alphabetical order so as to give those of us in the back of the alphabet a chance to shine at the front of the line for once!): Michele Weil-Guthmann from Tannay, Switzerland…and Paris (lucky, two of my favorite places!) Paul J. Van Osselaer from Austin, Texas, adding to our cache of superstar Austin mediators. Leland M. Shurin from lovely Kansas City, Missouri. Patrick H. Van Leynseele, a true Belgian mediation pioneer. Steven Paul of Los Angeles, California (don’t be fooled by the two first names; he’s a closer!). Greg Derin, also of Los Angeles, California, mediator to the stars. The always effervescent Robert Daisley of Tampa, Florida. And the brilliant Stephanie Bell of Malibu/Pepperdine, CA. WELCOME!

B) Mentorship Program is alive and well. Thanks to Mariam Zadeh and Devon Coughlin, this program is an integral part of the IAM’s effort to diversify the commercial mediation profession. You may have noticed that commercial mediators, as reflected by our IAM membership, tend to be a bit, um, follicly challenged? Youth-deprived? We are generally old (though I still remember high school like it was yesterday; on the other hand what I had for lunch yesterday is a mystery); trending male; heavily white. Our mentorship program seeks to identify, and then help develop, mediators who are…not that. Younger mediators trying to make a go of it. Mediators of color. Mediators with disabilities. The goal is to recruit and support the next generation of star commercial mediators, help build a more diverse community of commercial mediators, and assist those rising stars who would be a credit to the IAM. IAM mentors help guide the mentees as they develop their practices. Your job is to meet these wonderful people at our conferences, make them feel welcome, and do what you can to assist them, if only by sharing some supporting words.

C) International Growth: It continues to amaze me how much international interest there is in the IAM. We have received inquiries from India, all parts of Europe, Africa, Nepal, Korea, Trinidad, Brazil, and much more, all without even trying. We are going to be a little more systematic about our approach to our international colleagues, developing a plan for how we can be a little more proactive in identifying those top mediators in different parts of the world.

Jeff Krivis and Eric Galton have just singlehandedly (or is that double-handedly) increased the exposure and reputation of the IAM exponentially in Europe and other parts of the world. How, you ask? Just by being Jeff and Eric . . . that is to say by being brilliant. They have established a relationship with a major world publisher of legal materials, Wolters Kluwer, to produce and publish webinars created by the IAM! Their first installment has just aired — "7 Ways to Make Your Next Mediation Successful” — and it was an unbelievable success, with over a hundred subscribers from all over the world . . . and this with very little publicity in the United States. Additional programs in the series include "7 Ways to Work More Productively with a Mediator;” "7 Mistakes that Will Doom a Mediation;” "7 Things that Must Be in a Mediation Brief;” and the like. (Guess how many programs in the series. Seven? Wrong, nine, go figure.) Subsequent webinars will feature other IAM members so that we can make this as broad-based as possible.

First of all, we don’t like our members to retire. So don’t. But apparently some of our members have seen fit to face other challenges and opportunities in their lives, and step away from the excitement of the mediation world. We don’t want to lose these friends, their warmth and good cheer, their talent and knowledge, their history. Paul “I’m never retiring” Monicatti, along with his co-immortals John Wagner and Gene Moscovitch, are working on a proposal to keep us all connected. They are looking at ways our retiring members can come to conferences, participate in our activities, maybe even share their wisdom with mentees and others.

There are a number of other things in the works, but I think I have taxed your attention spans long enough. Congratulations for getting this far. If YOU have any thoughts, ideas, questions, or even projects you think the IAM should consider, I’m easy to find.

Come to San Francisco. You’ll be glad you did!

Mike Young
IAM, President