Monday, December 31, 2007

2007 highlights: the year's best from Online Guide to Mediation

Happy new year - Online Guide to Mediation looks back at a year of blogging in 2007Year's end is a time for looking forward and also for looking back, as we take stock of where we've been, while we consider the journey ahead of us.

As part of that annual tradition, I've pulled together the posts from 2007 that have been the most frequently visited, the ones that drew the most comments and emails, or that are simply my favorites.

I hope you enjoy them.

From January:

"Is your negotiating style leaving value on the table?"

"Mediator certification and credentialing: getting accurate information on becoming a mediator"

"Bridging the divide between lawyers and mediators" - a three-part series

From February:

"Sunshine is the best disinfectant: Bob Sutton's "The No Asshole Rule" gets an age-old workplace problem out into the open"

Blawg Review #94 - The Getting to Yes Edition

From March:

"What's so funny 'bout peace, love and understanding? Thoughts on why we're not getting to yes"

"Since when is changing your mind a bad thing?"

"Seeing ourselves as others see us: the art of feedback"

From April:

"Why I will not be observing One Day Blog Silence"

"Chicken peacekeepers mediate bunny turf war"

"Are mediators hindering a civil right to counsel? One scholar says yes"

From May:

"In This Case: blog allows people to tell their personal stories about the law"

"Does ADR deliver justice?"

From June:

"Premature negotiation: how to get rid of performance anxiety at the mediation table"

"The ups and downs of conflict: a game theory analysis of the toilet seat issue"

From July:

"Nothing but the truth: Radical Honesty movement proposes a world without deception"

From August:

"Won't get fooled again: negotiating with liars"

"Mediator nominated for Congressional Order of Merit by National Republican Congressional Committee"

"Requiem for a friend"

From September:

"Art education may help prepare future lawyers (and mediators)"

"Free stuff online to help ADR professionals run their businesses"

From October:

Blawg Review #130 - the Double Hemisphere Edition co-hosted with fellow mediator Geoff Sharp

"(In)justice for all: the case against arbitration clauses in consumer contracts"

"Apologies can improve the health of hospital-patient relations"

From November:

"In weighing the Uniform Mediation Act, Massachusetts mediators may be poised to repeat mistakes of the past"

"How to turn a simple misunderstanding into all-out war: a mediator's advice"

From December:

"In celebration of the ADR blogosphere: blogging transforms how we talk about dispute resolution"

"Out of the mouths of babes: a child's guide to the law"

"Optical illusions as a training tool for mastering negotiation and conflict resolution skills"

A happy 2008 to all of you! And thanks as always for stopping by to visit.

Incidentally, in just a few days, in time for my third anniversary of blogging, big changes are coming to this blog. I'm pulling up stakes here at -- Online Guide to Mediation will get both a new home (currently under construction) and a new name -- plus an easier-to-remember domain name, too.

Plus I'll be welcoming in the new year with a special series: I'll be posting "New Year (Dispute) Resolutions" during the first week in January.

Stay tuned!

A happy New Year message from Online Guide to Mediation

appy 2008 from Online Guide to Mediation!Please click here to view a New Year's Eve message from me to you.

Best wishes to everyone!

Saturday, December 29, 2007

New additions, New Year's updates for World Directory of ADR Blogs

World Directory of ADR BlogsChange is good.

And change is coming to the World Directory of ADR Blogs, my online project tracking and cataloging blogs worldwide on mediation, negotiation, ADR, conflict resolution, negotiation, and people-focused innovations in the law.

Beginning on the first of the year, the World Directory of ADR Blogs will itself become a blog, with its own RSS feed so that visitors can subscribe easily for news and updates. This will make it easier for me to maintain and update the site as well. The site may be inaccessible during the conversion, which will be complete by January 1.

In the meantime, please check out the World Directory's latest acquisitions:

The Conflict Resolution Toolbox
Cool tools and fun sundries from professional mediator and conflict resolution coach Tammy Lenski.

A Mediator's Calling
An informal exploration of the process of becoming a mediator, consisting of one individual's reflections on a variety of topics pertaining to the art of mediation, with some practical advice. Published by Toronto mediator Ken Bole.

Singapore Law Blog
This blawg provides its readers with news, comments and insight on legal matters in Singapore, including arbitration and dispute resolution.

Chinese Negotiation - Negotiating in China
Chinese Negotiation is a tool to assist international investors and managers enter the China market. Published by Andrew Hupert, a consultant based in Shanghai who has been working with the Greater China market since 1991. He specializes in helping new China entrants with sales management, marketing and negotiation.

Communication and Conflict Blog
The Communication and Conflict Blog discusses insights from the practice of mediation, including principles for effective communication based on the underlying philosophies of mediation. Author Alan Sharland shares observations and updates on communication and conflict in daily life.

Blawg Review Nominations

Blawg Review Nominations 2007Blawg Review, acknowledged recently by the American Bar Association as one of the top 100 law blogs, is unique among blogs. Hosted each week by a different legal blog, no better source exists for current trends, new ideas, highlights of top news stories, and stimulating repartee for the legal community. Serving as a central repository or hub, it provides opportunity for legal bloggers everywhere to participate, gain visibility, and speak out.

Blawg Review now seeks nominations for the best presentation of Blawg Review this year. Anyone who has hosted a presentation of Blawg Review (or is slated to host an upcoming one) can participate. The anonymous Editor made his own recommendations in a ceremony this week in Second Life -- suggestions you can view at Virtually Blind, a blog covering legal issues in virtual worlds.

As someone who has served as Blawg Review host three times now (two in 2007, #94 and #130 co-hosted with Geoff Sharp in a double-hemisphere edition, which I was honored to discover among the Editor's recommendations), I also know how much hard behind-the-scenes work goes into each presentation.

During the past year there were many excellent editions of Blawg Review (tough acts for any host to follow). A few, however, stand out. Well crafted, inventive, intelligently written, and informative, my nominations are:

Blawg Review #124, Labor Day Special Historical Edition. Hosted by the inimitable George Lenard, this presentation skillfully weaves together archival photographs and history with a week's worth of links to high-quality legal blogging. "Epic" is the word that comes to mind.

Blawg Review #137. Colin Samuel achieves another poetic masterpiece with his third Dante-themed presentation of Blawg Review. Bravissimo, Colin!

Blawg Review #101. Diana Skaggs of Divorce Law Journal evokes images of bluegrass, mint juleps, and the Run for the Roses in this Derby-themed edition.

Blawg Review #102 and its prequel. This special presentation was delivered by host George M. Wallace at his two blogs, the all-business Declarations and Exclusions, and his personal and cultural web journal, a fool in the forest. Both presentations were constructed around illustrations from Stultifera Navis, the 1497 Latin translation of Sebastian Brant's 1494 satirical German text, Das Narrenschiff, aka The Ship of Fools.

Blawg Review #134. Eric Turkewitz at New York Personal Injury Law Blog hosted this meticulously crafted marathon-themed presentation.

No matter who ultimately wins the title of best Blawg Review, Blawg Review makes a winner out of us all -- its hosts and its readers alike. Congratulations to all who served as host this past year, and best wishes to those who will serve in future.

Lawyers Appreciate... democracy

lawyers appreciate democracyMemes are ideas or units of cultural information transmitted, as viruses are, from one individual to the next. Blogs provide a rich medium for memes to flourish in, as bloggers invite (or incite) each other to comment on and disseminate them.

Stephanie West Allen, who publishes Idealawg, a blog that honors the creative spirit within the practice of law, and Julie Fleming Brown of Life at the Bar, have announced the second annual celebration of Lawyers Appreciate..., a legal meme in which bloggers are invited to express appreciation for the things that matter most to them about the practice of law in a 10-day countdown to the start of the new year.

Stephanie invited me, together with bloggers Vickie Pynchon and Gini Nelson, to add our thoughts. Both of them have already weighed in, the former to praise end-of-the-year appreciation memes, the latter to honor justice.

As for me? Of all the images from 2007, among the most enduring are those of lawyers protesting in the streets of Pakistan. As I contemplated those images in November, I asked, "Is it time for a Nobel Prize in law?"

What do I appreciate about the law? You can find my answer there.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

In celebration of the ADR blogosphere: blogging transforms how we talk about dispute resolution

Celebrating mediation bloggersIn less than a month I'll be celebrating Online Guide to Mediation's third anniversary. Looking back, I marvel at how radically things have changed since my early days of blogging.

With all things web-related, change occurs rapidly and time accelerates. Last year is ancient history and yesterday is old news. Those three years have witnessed some radical change.

When I launched OGM, it was mighty lonely out here for anyone blogging about mediation or ADR. Although there were a handful of early adopters like Colin Rule, Bill Warters, Perry Itkin, and Tammy Lenski, blogging about mediation remained a solitary business. In comparison with the brawling and boisterous legal blogosphere, ADR blogging was awfully quiet then. There were just too few of us to make much noise.

Fast forward three years and now look at us. According to the latest head count, there are almost 120 of us, located all over the world in 22 countries, as you can see at the World Directory of ADR Blogs. And we cover the ADR spectrum -- arbitration blogs, mediation blogs, negotiation blogs, and more.

The digital world of ADR blogging pulses with light and sound. That buzz you hear is ADR bloggers using their sites to invite debate about issues important to our field -- subjects that range from ethical duties to the role of spirituality in dispute resolution to money offers at the mediation table to the laws that affect our work.

We're not only using blogs to get our message out, but we've also turned to podcasts and videoblogging, as Negotiating Tip of the Week and the Mediation vBlog Project prove.

Although our numbers remain too small to, say, merit a cover story in a major publication for a professional association as legal blogs have done, we have been fortunate to have earned the support of the world's premier online resource on dispute resolution,, which created a special section on its site to highlight selected posts from its Featured Blogs.

To give you a sense of the diversity of ADR blogging, in terms of subject matter and geography, consider these exemplars of the craft (and these are only the English-language ones):

Idealawg and Brains on Purpose. Published by Colorado-based attorney and mediator Stephanie West Allen, Idealawg unleashes the creative potential and artistry in the craft of law, while Brains on Purpose reflects its author's fascination with neuroscience as a tool for resolving and transforming conflict.

Mediator Blah...Blah... The creation of Wellington, New Zealand, mediator and barrister Geoffrey Sharp, this blog delivers wit, wisdom, and no-holds-barred truths straight from the mediation table, with plenty of comic relief when the going gets tough.

ICT4Peace. Published from Sri Lanka by innovative thinker Sanjana Hattotuwo, this bleeding-edge blog explores the use of information and communications technology for conflict transformation.

Florida Arbitration, a group endeavor, is a blog that focuses on law regarding the enforcement of arbitration and issues of vacating, confirming or correcting awards, primarily affecting Florida., published by four prominent American ADR professors, provides a scholarly perspective on mediation, arbitration, dispute resolution, and negotiation.

Gini Nelson's Engaging Conflicts, based in New Mexico, discusses science, ethics, and spirit in a high conflict practice. It regularly features conversations with dispute resolution practitioners and provides thoughtful discussion of the rewards and challenges that our work produces.

CKA Mediation and Arbitration Blog is published by Georgia mediator and lawyer Chris "Tell Us What You Really Think" Annunziata. Chris pulls no punches as he tackles the issues that mediators face or that bedevil the legal profession (and don't get him started on ridiculous lawsuits). Don't be surprised to see sacred cows dispatched along the way -- with style and humor.

Settle It Now Negotiation Blog. Commercial mediator Victoria Pynchon dispenses her best advice on negotiation and dispute resolution, with insights into the psychology of negotiating, particularly cognitive errors and the risks they pose for dealmakers. Vickie's talent for writing is evident in her well-crafted posts, written with honesty and good common sense.

The Ombuds Blog, published by university ombuds Tom Kosakowski in California, is a dependable source for news and information for and about organizational ombuds.

Tammy Lenski's Mediator Tech. This Vermont-based blog offers "tips and tech for making mediation your day job". Tammy is skilled at demystifying technology and taking the fear out of marketing for mediators intimidated by both. Tammy made ADR blog history when she launched her first-of-its kind blog-to-book project, "Making Mediation Your Day Job".

And still more sites worth visiting include:

PGP Mediation Blog, published by California attorney and Mediator Phyllis Pollack, stands out for its consistently thoughtful posts on mediation practice.

Campus ADR Tech Tools, hands-down the best resource on the web for online tools, games, materials, and downloads for conflict resolution practitioners, students, and teachers.

Mediation Mensch, created by entrepreneur and ADR professional Dina Beach Lynch, is the world's first mediation marketing blog.

National Arbitration Forum Blog, which recently celebrated its third anniversary, lives up to its name and provides news across the nation on arbitration and ADR.

* * * * * *

In the ADR blogosphere today, ideas develop, mutate, and spread, transmitted virally through the medium of the web. The conversation grows, amplified as one blogger after another joins in. Limited no longer by physical geography, we can reach across the world and connect to each other.

The spirit of the community of ADR bloggers is summed up best in a quote that captures the ethos of blogging. Although it was written to evoke the spirit of a very different community of bloggers, it applies to the many bloggers I admire who write so honestly, so compellingly, about ADR:

We help each other. Many of us are stars but we like to pass the ball and create opportunities for others. Points don't matter. Assists do.
That's what it's all about. It's that simple. Creating opportunities for others. Helping each other. It's what we're doing out here, as we try ideas on for size and do our thinking out loud together -- in the best spirit of the collaborative nature of our work.

We'd love it if you joined us. In the frontier that is the web, there's plenty of room for all.

Come join the conversation.

Test your knowledge of world geography

Test your knowledge of world geographyMaybe you consider yourself knowledgeable about foreign affairs. Or count yourself a seasoned traveler with the passport stamps to prove it. Or perhaps you pride yourself on your cultural awareness.

Put your internationally attuned wits to the test with the interactive Traveler IQ Challenge to see how well you know your world geography. (Watch where you're clicking -- I inadvertently slipped and missed accurately locating Fenway Park by 735 kilometers.)

(Hat tip to

Monday, December 10, 2007

Out of the mouths of babes: a child's guide to the law

A child's guide to the lawI have a confession. The obituaries are perhaps the part of the newspaper I enjoy reading most.

Why? I can think of many reasons. Obituaries celebrate a life well lived. They return history to a human scale, reminding us that history is not shaped by emperors, generals, or queens alone, but also by ordinary people against the backdrop of large-scale events. Most importantly, for me, obituaries tell stories -- stories of human experience, of triumphs over personal tragedy, of love.

Sometimes they offer lessons, too. I was charmed by this one on the law from the Boston Globe obituary for legal scholar and authority on comparative legal history Harold J. Berman. He described himself as a law student from an early age "like all children", since children instinctively grasp the basic principles of law:
"A child says, 'It's my toy.' That's property law," he said. "A child says, 'You promised me.' That's contract law. A child says, 'He hit me first.' That's criminal law. A child says, 'Daddy said I could.' That's constitutional law."
(To which I would add, a child says, "Let's take turns." That's dispute resolution.)

Blawg Review #138 honors Human Rights Day

Human Rights DayDe Novo hosts Blawg Review #138, this week's edition of Blawg Review, the weekly review of the best in legal blogging.

This presentation of Blawg Review celebrates Human Rights Day, December 10, which commemorates the adoption of The Universal Declaration of Human Rights by the United Nations General Assembly:

All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. They are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood...
Click here to read the full text of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

Friday, December 07, 2007

Online Guide to Mediation Link Round-up | December 7, 2007

Online Guide to Mediation links round upHere's the latest round-up of conflict resolution and negotiation links for mediators:

The Telegraph discusses the benefits of negotiation training in "The art of being a winning negotiator". Lessons learned include "Don't squander trust" and "build relationships with the other party".

In a story from NPR's Weekend America, an Iraqi artist living in the U.S. uses art to convey what life is like when it's lived under the gun.

The Britannica Blog bravely calls for "Negotiation, Not War: How to Deal with Iran".

Meanwhile, at a time when American political leaders insist that "we don't negotiate with terrorists", our field faces a tough sell in convincing Americans that there's value in talking it out, as I've discussed here before. We've definitely got our work cut out for us -- if wearing peace shirts at a Florida high school can trigger this kind of harassment.

As Shakespeare writes in Julius Caesar, "Words before blows...Good words are better than bad strokes, Octavius." Consider that sentiment and visit Walking the Berkshires, which describes through old family letters "Old School Conflict Resolution" -- when duels were fought with swords not words.

From Slashdot is news of a report that finds that the "Brain Changes When Viewing Violent Media".

Gini Nelson welcomes guest blogger Thomas Kosakowski, who'll be dispensing advice on the "10 Things Lawyers Should Know About Ombuds".

Perry Itkin at Florida Mediator reports with an exclamation point that "Florida Supreme Court Removes Bar Membership Requirement for Circuit Court Mediators!" Amen to that.

At Boing Boing, a flowchart that depicts how to determine whether a statement made on the internet is factual.

It's not often that you see the words "nude" and "settlement conference" used in the same sentence. Things may be different now, if the following headline is a sign of the changing times: "Ms. Cordero Will be Happy to Attend a Televised Nude Settlement Conference".

My husband's British, I'm American. That means we often argue over the pronunciation of words in the English language. Resolve your own pronunciation disputes with, a free online pronunciation dictionary. It includes both American and British spellings with pronunciation in Standard British English. (Naughty words are excluded, so it's safe for kids and the workplace.)

That's it for this time. Have a great weekend, folks.

Thursday, December 06, 2007

"The Point": web site leverages the power of numbers to solve problems

The Point offers strength in numbersThey say that there's strength in numbers. And that's the premise of a new web site, The Point, which bills itself as "a social platform for people to solve problems they can't solve alone."

Visitors to the site can register and create campaigns to encourage others to join their cause. Videos on the landing page of the site demonstrate the kind of individuals who can launch campaigns to instigate change: the Frustrated Consumer, the Unappreciated Employee, the Loving Parent, and the Concerned Citizen -- archetypes that any of us can identify with.

The values on which The Point are based are straightforward:

The Point changes the way we participate in activities, removing the primary cause of inaction – not knowing if we will make a difference. The Point is a natural adaptation of collective action to the Web, and the most effective model for channeling frustration into coordinated, decisive action...

People want a way to make a difference, but many problems are so large that we feel powerless to solve them. People are not apathetic – most of us will help if we feel like we can make a difference.
By bringing people together in numbers sufficient to create change, The Point aims to "to empower people with an easy way to make the world the one they want."

For those who say you can't fight city hall, The Point may offer some hope.

(Hat tip to Bill Warters.)

Premier ADR web site adds new feature with global focus connects visitors with resources, the world's leading online resource for news, information, and bleeding-edge thinking in the field of ADR, has added a new feature.

Mediation Today highlights the importance of mediation, posting stories from around the globe that demonstrate the many ways in which men and women confront and address disputes -- and the continuing relevance of the work that the conflict resolution field is engaged in.

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Optical illusions as a training tool for mastering negotiation and conflict resolution skills

Optical illusions as negotiation and conflict resolution training toolsAs a trainer of negotiation and conflict resolution skills, I love using optical illusions to demonstrate the fallibility of our perception. They alert us that our senses can be unreliable and susceptible to influence. And they remind us that it is always possible to see things differently. The ability to be alert to errors in thinking and judgment that any of us are prone to is of course essential to anyone who is negotiating or resolving a dispute.

Here are two optical illusions I was recently introduced to that I've incorporated into my training. Both of us these can be found at Michael Bach's web site, 75 Optical Illusions & Visual Phenomena.

The first is Shepard's "Terror Subterra", a cool interactive illusion that demonstrates how perspective can bias us.

The second is Shepard's "Turning the Tables", an interactive illusion with tables that appear to be of different dimensions but are in fact identical, with the ability to test the visual effect for yourself. It's extraordinary how knowing the truth doesn't necessarily prevent us from making mistakes in our thinking.

Divinely inspired Blawg Review #137

Blawg Review #137 inspired by the poet DanteThis week's Blawg Review, the weekly review of the best in legal blogging, is hosted by Colin Samuels at Infamy or Praise. Blawg Review #137 draws poetic inspiration from The Divine Comedy's third cantica, Paradiso.

This edition of Blawg Review is Colin's third. Each time the works of the immortal Dante have served as Colin's muse, resulting in an Inferno-inspired Blawg Review #35 and a Purgatorio-themed Blawg Review #86.

Congratulations, by the way, to Blawg Review for earning its rightful place among the American Bar Association's list of top 100 law blogs. Blawg Review stands apart for its ability to present unique voices in the legal community.

Consider, for example, these two recent hosts of Blawg Review:

Peter Black's Freedom to Differ, providing an Australian perspective on legal and policy issues concerning the media and internet

Dr. Jillian Todd Weiss at Transgender Workplace Diversity, covering law, politics, and policy affecting gender identity

Each weekly host presents a refreshingly different perspective on the law and legal issues -- the issues that affect all of us, whether we practice or study law, or simply care about it. And if you love both law and literature, don't miss Blawg Review #137.