Teaching the Ethical Values Governing Mediator Impartiality Using Short Lectures, Buzz Group Discussions, Video Clips, a Defining Features Matrix, Games, and an Exercise Based on Grievances Filed Against Florida Mediators
Appalachian School of Law
April 1, 2011
Pepperdine Dispute Resolution Law Journal, Vol. 11, 2011
In my earlier article – Teaching Professional Ethics to Lawyers and Mediators Using Active Learning Techniques, 40:1 Sw. L. Rev. 127 (2010) – I discussed the barriers to learning about professional ethics, especially in the law school context, possible approaches to teaching professional ethics including the objectives of a course, the stages of learning in the context of professional ethics training, the design of an active or interactive learning environment, and various teaching methodologies. I then focused on several professional ethics courses in which the professors used active learning techniques to impart the knowledge, skills, and values of the legal profession. Finally, I surveyed the best practices for assessing student learning and reviewed the assessment techniques used in several professional ethics courses. The article concludes that we can create enthusiasm in students for professional ethics by providing well-designed training programs that use active learning techniques.
I have planned a series of articles on the use of active learning techniques to teach the core ethical values of mediation – mediator impartiality, party self-determination, confidentiality, and quality of the process/mediator competence. The enclosed article is the second article in that series. It describes the role of mediator impartiality as a core value of the mediation field; evaluates the definitions of mediation found in several ethics codes as they relate to mediator impartiality; discusses the value of impartiality in building trust between the mediator and the parties and its role in supporting party self-determination; presents the views of leading authors in the field who express skepticism about the existence of mediator impartiality and its unchallenged (or at least unexamined) status as a core value of mediation; and discusses the overlap between elements of procedural justice and mediator impartiality.
I devote the majority of the article to a description of the active learning or interactive teaching methodologies I use to teach the ethical values governing mediator impartiality. It develops “Another Grid for the Perplexed,” which conceptually organizes possible sources of mediator bias. This section distills and organizes the thinking of many leaders of our field on the topic of mediator impartiality.
Later sections, illustrate how an instructor can assess student learning by using the exercises based on grievance filed against Florida mediators; and provides an analysis of the learning objectives met in the workshop, a consideration of the limits to the scope of the workshop given the time available for the course, a description of how I have scaled the workshop for use in my law school courses, a summary of the evaluations provided by workshop participants, and an acknowledgement that the workshop provides an opportunity to interact with true adult learners. It concludes that the conceptual framework provided by “Another Grid for the Perplexed” allows mediators to quickly and effectively resolve ethical dilemmas arising in the moment.
Appendix A provides a copy of “Another Grid for the Perplexed” illustrating examples of the different sources of mediator bias. Appendix B provides copies of thirteen exercises based on the grievances filed by parties against Florida mediators. This article makes these grievances available to ethics trainers for the first time in this format.
Keywords: teaching, ethics, impartiality, conflict of interest, mediation, mediator
Date posted: May 6, 2011
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