My Favorite Oxymoron: Competitive Mediation

I met this week with four Georgetown Law Students who have won places on the 2019 ICC Mediation Team, and who will be competing in Paris after the New Year. This is the largest mediation competition in the world; there will be about 66 law schools from all over the globe sending teams. I am honored to be the Coach of this talented Georgetown team, and am already looking forward to heading back to Paris for the event.

I enjoy teaching law students about mediation. It is a somewhat ‘soft’ side of the profession, and for many law students it is a revelation. For their entire legal education they have been instructed on how to fight vigorously and zealously in their client’s interest, so when they come up against what I coach them on mediation, it can stop them cold. There is no zealotry in mediation. Indeed, the softer skills of listening, asking questions, applying creativity, and building rapport are a new and welcome set of skills to learn for many students.

Mediation is an important area of a new lawyer’s experience, and its importance is growing as the eye-watering expense of legal representation can put courtroom disputes out of reach of many individuals and small businesses.


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