Nicholas Cox shares his experience of Mediation training

Sit properly and pay attention. Pens down, notebooks away.  Listen to me carefully - and don't assume that because I am talking to you like this that I am rude and impolite. 

If you have already completed the Bar Council's Foundation Mediation Course you will not have made any such assumption, and you will immediately recognise these as excellent tips for any newly-accredited mediator.

The Bar Council's competitively-priced Foundation Mediation Course is provided to 12-16 participants over five days by inspirational tutors - all highly experienced mediators themselves - from the Society of Mediators.  The course consists of a well-paced and balanced mixture of 40 hours of lectures, homework and exercises, observation of and participation in mediation scenarios role plays packed with learning points leading to a final assessed mediation and a short-written examination.  Make no mistake, it is a demanding course, but it is also fun.

The essentials for conducting a mediation safely are fully covered, but it is the skills training which stands out. The teaching and guidance provided for this is excellent - even including analysis and instruction on body language from an actor - and you have ample opportunity to reflect on feedback, to practice and improve during the course.  But the learning curve, especially for barristers, is very steep.  Be prepared to find yourself tongue-tied, outside of your comfort zone, bereft of notes and pens and worrying about where to sit.  By the middle of the course participants begin to 'get it' and to trust the process.  When that happens, it can be a revelation: some participants on my course spoke of real insights into their legal practice, some predicted changes in their working habits, others even more profound effects on their work and life.   

I would not hesitate to recommend these outstanding courses to anyone at the Bar.

Mediation is increasingly seen as an important tool in dispute resolution.  Complete the course, plus the additional requirement to observe three live mediations - the course offers practical help and tips with this too - and you are entitled to call yourself an accredited mediator (recognised by the Civil Mediation Council and the Chartered Institute of Arbitrators).  Even if you have no wish to practice as a mediator the course will certainly improve your competence and effectiveness as an advocate in mediations, and it just may change your life.

 

Nicholas Cox

4 Stone Buildings, Lincoln's Inn

 

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