A Week of Two Halves

December 19th, 2022

The Legal v Mediation Professions

I was delighted and extremely proud to be shortlisted recently for the National Mediation Awards for Workplace Mediator of the Year. The awards ceremony was held at the Houses of Parliament, so it felt like an excellent opportunity to have a trip to London and attend an event in such a wonderful and historic building.

Prior to that, I had the not so enjoyable prospect of attending court. This was connected to a PPI claim from many years ago and had I realised (or been told) that I may have to actually attend court, I would not have proceeded with it. Anyway, out of the blue I found myself in a situation where I effectively had no choice but to turn up at court and give evidence.  This experience closely followed by the mediation awards event got me thinking about the difference between legal processes and informal resolution.

Court Appearance

The experience made me very thankful that I no longer worked within the legal system. The whole process was incredibly impersonal. The environment was quite intimidating even for someone who knew the system and had some familiarity with it; for anyone with no experience of the legal profession and court processes, it could easily be terrifying.

The barristers on both sides were doing this sort of claim day in and day out. I felt that they had no interest in me as a person; my presence was almost an irrelevance perhaps even an inconvenience. There was no attempt to establish any relationship or rapport, it was simply a process to be got through and I got the impression that they were bored and disinterested in it all. I felt very detached from it all; the process was going on around me and was something entirely outside of my influence or control.

Everyone was very polite and deferential to the judge and this added to the sense of detachment; I felt like a a bit player in play and that everyone else was putting on a performance.

As it happened, my evidence probably was largely irrelevant as the verdict hinged entirely on the precise wording in a document.

Mediation Awards

 

I guess the Houses of Parliament and its associated rituals could also be an intimidating place for those not used to it. The building itself is however, completely stunning so many pictures and selfies were taken! Aside from that, the things that I took away from the evening were:

  • How almost everyone who spoke talked about mediation being a vocation, something that they are passionate about and something that is much more than a job. For myself this is certainly how I feel, following a career in HR and then as an employment lawyer, I do feel that I have found now my vocation.
  • The work being done in areas such as peer, community and diversity and inclusion, in particular, was truly inspirational. It is work that is changing people’s lives for the better and in some cases, literally, saving lives.
  • The work that we do as mediators is all about the people involved in the dispute or conflict. Creating trust and rapport is vital as is creating an environment in which people feel comfortable in being able to be open and honest with each other. What is of most importance is the emotional aspects of the issues and enabling each to understand the others perspective and the impact on each other.
  • It is for the individuals to come to a resolution between them if they can; the interpretation of a form of words determined by someone else is totally irrelevant.

So, I am forever grateful that I found my vocation; the work we do has real purpose and benefit to people’s health and well-being and provides skills that will help people better understand and resolve future difficulties. It is a constant source of wonder what magic can happen when people start to talk, to listen and to understand each other and to witness that is a privilege.

I look forward to continuing our important work in 2023 and in the meantime I hope everyone has a good festive break.

 

 

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