On Co-Mediation Part I by Nick de Domenico

Today’s guest blogger is Nick de Domenico, a Mediate BC Civil Roster mediator whose mediation practice focuses largely on personal injury and is a member of the Mediate BC Roster Committee. Nick keeps a busy civil mediation practice in the Greater Vancouver area, njd.ca.

This is the second post in our “On Co-Mediation” series. Read the other posts here:

Introduction | Part I | Part II | Part III | Part IV | Part V | Part VI | Part VII

Nick de Domenico
Nick de Domenico

I recently had the very positive experience of co-mediating with a new applicant to the Civil Roster. I thought I would share what happened on this blog as I saw benefit obtained not just by the applicant in terms of fulfilling the paid mediation requirement for Roster membership, but also as a learning process for both of us, and as considerable added value to my clients and to my practice as a mediator.

If you are looking for an opportunity to fulfill the paid mediation requirement for Roster membership or are an established mediator that has been approached by someone in that position, you might find something here worth adapting to your own particular situation. Some have already been down this path and might wish to add to what I put out here in a subsequent blog of your own.

In the preparation of this article I was fortunate to have Michael Lomax, a very experienced mediator situated in Victoria, provide me with his thoughts on co-mediation. I was also fortunate to have Ms. Kathryn Sainty, recently retired Registrar of the Supreme Court of BC as the applicant.

For myself, I have developed an important and beneficial strategic alliance. We are both now able to broaden each other’s client base, offer a greater range of technical expertise and experience, and provide an additional product in terms of an established co-mediation model for certain situations.

Essential to a successful mentoring program the applicant and Roster mediator need to have mutual respect, complementary skills and the potential for a broader client base. They can then combine these business assets to build a strong professional relationship that benefits themselves, their clients and the public generally.

Ms. Sainty and I are not unique in generating this sort of combination. I would encourage the reader to consider how their particular strengths might combine with others they know when the opportunity to bring new mediators into our world presents itself.

Confirming the Pairing
Ms. Sainty and I share a mutual acquaintance, whom we have both known for many years and have a good deal of respect for.  It was this person that put us together. So we came to each other with the confidence of a sound recommendation.

We interviewed each other and then did further referencing.

On mutual endorsement, the next step was to set up three mediations where the applicant attended strictly as an observer.

Getting Permission from the Parties
I am a civil mediator specializing in litigated, personal injury cases.  While there is of course a clear and significant human element involved in these sorts of mediations, they are ultimately about making a business decision on the litigated value of an insurance claim. As a rule they do not demand the sort of sensitivity that I imagine mediations on divorce, child custody and the like do. I would leave it to family mediators to provide their perspective on how they might safely foster an inexperienced mediator into that sort of process.

I relied on my clients to determine whether situational sensitivity would preclude a new mediator from being part of their process.

I provided them with the name and background information of the applicant and confirmed in my request that the interests of my clients were paramount and they were free to decline the request if they thought those interests were going to be adversely affected.  Some did in fact pass on those grounds. Most did not. Once consent was given, the applicant performed her conflict of interest assessment.

On a final point about the invitation, I kept the identities of those clients I was making the request for cooperation confidential from the applicant. We are a relatively small community and I wanted to eliminate any pressure that might be felt in a rejection of the applicant as co-mediator, no matter how valid the reason.

Read the continuation of Nick’s post as he discusses the co-mediation structure he and the applicant employed and the benefits of co-mediation as he sees them in Part II of the “On Co-Mediation” series.

[Editor’s note: Many of the posts in this series refer to the personal experiences of the author. When considering applying to a Mediate BC Roster, please be sure to review the requirements at mediatebc.com.]

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