Complex public policy is different from the typical mediation cases. The mediator is an advocate for problem solving and for a solution. We are looking at process expertise over substance expertise. The parties are not hiring you for your substance expertise.
The role is to ensure that everybody has the resources that they need. The field may be known by another name, collaborative leadership, making it broader than dispute resolution because in some cases they get involved in these processes before they have had a dispute.
This field started in the late 1970s by a group of people who were labor mediators who were involved in disputes that exceeded the bounds of just the labor management issue. The first dispute was actually in Newark. It was a garbage strike. It typically would have just been the garbage workers in the city of Newark, but it ended up that there were a lot of racial issues, social justice issues, and the people who were typical labor mediators were asked to come see if they could help settle the dispute.
And out of that, the field emerged. It evolved over time. The people who were involved in that dispute essentially wrote the principles of it. How do we do this? How does it compare to a typical dispute? And then how do we take people who are trained as labor mediators and teach them this skill?
“The courts of this country should not be the places where resolution of disputes begins. They should be places where the disputes end after alternative methods of resolving disputes have been considered and tried”SANDRA DAY O’CONNOR
FORMER ASSOCIATE JUSTICE OF THE SUPREME COURT OF THE UNITED STATES