Will Dispute Resolution Put Its Money Where Its Mouth Is?
How many times a year does a Divorce Show come to London?
Well the last time was 2011 (I remember because I was the one putting on the event – the Starting Over Show) but this year, an entrepreneur called Mr Smith O’Connor is running his own event in Kensington on 19-20 October, and I’ve signed up as an exhibitor (and been invited to be one of the keynote speakers) because let’s face it, how often do we get provided with a public platform in our own Capital City to promote the benefits of dispute resolution?
So my burning question is – will the DR professionals put their money where their mouth is and join me as fellow exhibitors?
Or will they continue to talk the talk, and not walk the walk?
In the interview below with New York State Mediator BJ Mann, I ask her why mediation has been such a roaring success in her district of Rochester and the answer was simple: Sharing of good practice, and investing in promotion (collaboratively). The result is that (unofficial figures but a good guestimate) about 25% of divorcing couples access mediation in Rochester, Upper State New York – even though there is NO legal requirement for them to do so.
They don’t have the State incentives to stay out of court that we benefit from in the UK. Yet – NFM recently reported in an article in the Westminster Legal Policy Forum that since Legal Aid cuts, the take-up for Mediation in the UK has significantly fallen. So in the UK, people are not seeking out and choosing more peaceful options. Quite the opposite – despite a requirement to at least find out about mediation before resorting to court.
So what will happen? Will those Collaborative Lawyers who sit at Pod meetings talking about a method to divorce that the vast majority of the public have never even heard of, finally club together to have a stand at the two day Kensington event?
Will Mediation bodies – NFM, FMA et al – or the Mediation Council itself – combine forces to run a mediation role play to educate visitors, and by splitting the costs of exhibiting make the whole enterprise better value than any advertisement in a newspaper?
Will arbitrators be revealing to visitors to the event that family arbitration is a viable option and far far better than going to court?
Or will it be left to Divorce Strategist Suzy Miller – who is not a mediator, or a collaborative lawyer, or an arbitrator – to fly the dispute resolution flag alone, surrounded by exhibitors, some of whom are likely to be on a somewhat different wavelength?
Well, let’s see shall we?