Interview-Lee Jay Berman, President American Institute of Mediation

Lee Jay Berman

President, American Institute of Mediation




Please answer those questions you consider more appropriate:


  1. What requirements do you think a good mediator should have?


I don’t think that mediators should have any requirements or prerequisites, other than a basic 40-100 hour mediation training course. Any other license or educational requirement would potentially keep good, effective mediators out of the field, and granting entry to people without some basic training, populates the field with sub par mediators.


  1. What training do you consider most adequate to become a good mediator?


Mediation training. Including the principals of voluntariness, self-determination, confidentiality, and informed consent. Stressing the skills of listening, facilitating, negotiating, empathizing, and getting closure. While there may be more training that would be helpful, this is all that should ever be rquired for core adquacy as a mediator.


  1. In your opinion, what legislative measures would be necessary to effectively promote mediation in general and business mediation in particular?


The only legislative measures mediation requires is protection from intrusion. If the government would create a safe space for mediation to thrive, and help protect it from attacks on its confidentiality, its self-determination, and allowing anyone to leave a mediation at any time, then mediation will grow and flourish. Mediation doesn’t need a mandate or forced participation, it doens’t need people to be governed, regulated, certified, or licensed.


  1. What are the benefits of resolving a dispute through mediation rather than through the courts or arbitration?


Self-determination. The ability to make up one’s own mind, and to say no to any offer, and to make one’s own counter-offer back instead. The ability to walk away at any time. The ability to ask any quesiton of anyone in the mediation, and to change the dialogue on a dime into something more productive than the last path. The ability to tell a joke and to laugh. The ability to have your neutral agree with you, and still express their concern for you, without telling you what you must do.


  1. What is the most complicated aspect of mediation?


The institutionalization of mediation is the most complicated and confusing aspect of mediation, because it’s attempting to take an organic, human process of communication and negotiation and drape it over an institution’s (a court’s or government’s) rules and structure. It’s a little like taking a beautifully patterned silk tapestry and laying it over a pile of brown cardboard boxes – it may make the boxes look prettier, but it’s not the best way to appreciate the beauty of the tapestry. And, it may not be the tapestry’s highest and best use.


  1. What conditions should a citizen or enterprise take into account in order to select a good mediator?


Training and experience, personality, how deeply they listen, how much they care, and how hard they are willing to work. Those elements usually translate into a high settlement rate and positive user feedback.


  1. Do you think that mediation is an institution already implanted in our country? Or do you think that it has not been fully accepted by the citizens?


Both. While I’d argue that it’s not an institution, I believe that it’s already being used well in most countries, and that there is much room for more complete acceptance of it. In the United States, it’s begining to become a household word, but most people don’t really understand what it is, yet. We have a long way to go.


  1. In your opinion, what is the future of mediation in Europe as an extrajudicial method of dispute resolution?


The sky is the limit. Mediation can become the dominant method of dispute resolution, it will just be like pushing a gigantic boulder up the Matterhorn. It’s going to take a lot of coordinated hard work, patience, ingenuity, strategy, and blood, sweat and tears day and night for a long time. The question is less what the future of mediation is, the question is more what the commitment of the people is to making it the dominant method of dispute resolution in Europe and everywhere.


  1. What advice would you give to those who think of mediation as a future profession?


Study hard, learn a lot, watch the masters, practice, make a lot of mistakes, keep learning, and then practice some more.


  1. What is your opinion about online mediation? For which conflicts would online mediation be most useful?


I haven’t tried it, so I’m not informed enough to opine.


  1. What is the work of an international mediator?


I’m sorry, I don’t understand the question.


  1. What does a family mediator do?



  1. What is criminal mediation? And civil and commercial mediation?


  1. What do you think is the key factor so mediation can become a regular extrajudicial method of conflict resolution in the international and business fields?


See #8 and #9 above.

  1. Do you think mediation could be a solution to the widespread workload problem of the justice system in our country?


Absolutely. But it’s also important to make sure that we don’t sell mediation to the courts as a docket-clearing device, but rather emphasize the user satisfaction quotient as the reason for courts to embrace mediation.


Please, describe in no more than 10 lines, the work of the organization to which you belong in the field of mediation.


Offering a unique and diverse curriculum whose sole purpose is to raise a mediator’s level of practice, the American Institute of Mediation (AIM Institute) is where leading mediators turn to continue their learning and career development. Being free of academic constraints and embracing other disciplines allows AIM to expand the frontier of this developing profession. The AIM Institute distinguishes itself in the marketplace for mediation, negotiation, conflict resolution and peacemaking training by attracting the most talented and successful trainers to create cutting-edge courses that they are most passionate about, offering attendees the courses that the experts in the trenches deem most valuable. AIM is a community where trainers thrive and synergize, and mediators connect, learn and gather to discuss the field’s growth and development.


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