This year the Dispute Resolution Section of the American Bar Association has designated October 16-22 as Mediation Week. The theme for this year’s Mediation Week is “Civility and Civil Public Discourse.”
Given many things that have happened over the past year — the Arab Spring, increased economic instability, successive impasses between our lawmakers — this topic is very timely. We at JAMS believe that civility and advocacy do not have to be mutually exclusive. In fact JAMS has been a major sponsor of various civility programs over the years. It is possible to be passionate about your ideas, perspectives and position, and still respect the same in others.
For the legal profession, civility is not just an ideal, it’s a requirement. From a practical standpoint, incivility only adds complexity to the process and can prolong disputes and cost clients time and money. From a professional standpoint, our clients — and our colleagues — are best served when we all keep civility as our main objective.
According to the ABA, lawyers and mediators play a special role in promoting civility and civil public discourse. In their use of mediation and in other endeavors, lawyers can encourage and model the use of civility, non-disparagement, dialogue, problem solving and other collaborative practices by other lawyers, public officials, community leaders and members of the general public. This is one issue where the legal and ADR communities can lead by example.
In honor of Mediation Week, JAMS will be hosting complimentary continuing legal education (CLE) programs during October and through the end of the year. For a list of upcoming events, please visit www.jamsadr.com.