I haven’t met many new mediators who aren’t passionate about mediation as a career path, be it on a full-time or a part-time basis. There can be little doubt that the work is out there; the issue is how do we get the work to come to us? I was fortunate when I started mediating that I obtained a contract that sent mediation my way with little effort on my part (other than the effort of providing a consistently positive mediation experience on each file). That contract allowed me to develop both experience and a reputation that has since allowed me to slowly grow my mediation practice in other areas. I am not working as a mediator full-time yet, as I am not quite ready to give up my “day job”, but it has become a significant and rewarding part of my business. I can also see the opportunities out there when I am ready to dedicate my efforts to mediation as a primary business.
So I was thrilled when I was asked to Co-Chair the upcoming Dispute Resolution Conference 2015 on November 10th offered by Continuing Legal Education BC with Sharon Sutherland. As we started talking about what might be of interest to dispute resolution practitioners around the Province we quickly found common ground. Our theme “Share the Land” reflects our belief that if we bring practitioners together, we will find ways to share our experiences and learn from others, so that we can grow mediation and other dispute resolution processes in our own careers and in each other’s, for the benefit of our clients.
Mediating in Smaller Communities
I am excited to be Chairing a panel on the particular challenges faced by mediators based in “smaller communities”, both geographically and culturally. Living and working in a smaller community raises issues not always found in larger centers including, but obviously not limited to:
- reduced availability of legal and other resources to support clients,
- greater travel time and cost factors,
- credibility issues when clients are choosing between a local mediator and one from a larger centre,
- and an increased likelihood of conflicts of interest due to our personal and professional relationships.
I look forward to canvassing these issues and ways to approach them during the conference.
I am also looking forward to the panel we have put together on diversity. We are fortunate to live in a country and a province that is incredibly multi-cultural and diverse. However, many of our professions (including our highly qualified rosters of mediators) do not reflect the ethnic, cultural and sociological make-up of our population. A diverse mix of practitioners ensures that all clients are able to work with someone who can appreciate and understand their needs so that each client feels valued, respected and supported. Diversity also opens the door to the sharing of new ideas and approaches that can then be used by others in helping clients solve their disputes. I am curious to hear about the progress that has been made towards highly diverse rosters and what more we can do as a profession to ensure that we increase our inclusivity.
November 10th is going to be an incredibly exciting and enriching day. I hope to see many mediators from around the province coming to learn about how they too can share the land!
Today’s guest blogger Jenifer Crawford is a Civil, Family and Child Protection Roster mediator and has maintained a law practice since 1995 in the Kamloops area. In addition to her busy law and mediation practice, Jenifer is a sessional instructor of Dispute Resolution for Thompson Rivers University Faculty of Law. She is Co-Chair of the 2015 CLEBC Dispute Resolution Conference.
Photo credit: David Luggi, “McLeese Lake”