I created this website to discuss real life examples of why environmental mediation really works. It is not a “how to” site. There are thousands of those out there. It’s more of a “why” or, more accurately, a “why not” site. It is focused particularly on why environmental mediation fits so well into and is consistent with the aims of maintaining and cleaning up our environment, our waters, air and soil.
There is another reason. Over the last 25 years it has become apparent to me that there is much more extensive use of mediation to resolve environmental cases on the West Coast, particularly in California, than in other parts of the country. I’ve seen this first hand, as my mediation practice has grown national in scope, and yet the environmental cases I handle remain heavily concentrated in California. I’m not sure what accounts for this disparity. Environmental disputes are similar, no matter where the pollution or groundwater contamination may happen to occur; the governing laws are similar and so is the regulatory framework. To my way of thinking, then, mediation could prove equally beneficial for environmental lawyers based in New York, Washington and Chicago as well those working on the West Coast. To the extent that lack of awareness and prior experience is a contributing factor in explaining why California remains so much more advanced in the use of environmental mediation, I hope this website will serve to ameliorate those deficits.
I don’t think we professionals who provide alternative dispute resolution services have yet developed a common language or an effective way of describing how the mediation process works, such that it can be clearly understood by persons around the country and in different places around the world. Most of the complex mediation in the US has been integrated or incorporated into the world of litigation, and is viewed as an adjunct to the traditional litigation process, without understanding the unique techniques and benefits that mediation brings to bear in helping to resolve complex, multi-party disputes. Some of the advantages of environmental mediation lie in understanding how the actions of the participants in mediation, the information exchanged (or not) and the standards used to resolve issues can be specifically tailored to conform to the complex multi-party dynamics underlying the dispute at hand, instead of merely mirroring processes that occur in court.
My website tries to look at mediation apart from the traditional legal system. Make no mistake, however, that many of the mediations I refer to are or arose in litigation. But this new website is designed to show how, when a shift is made into mediation, the negotiations can change qualitatively so that the aim becomes more of a search for solutions, based on reliable data, rather than just a method to reach a settlement or achieve a win. Different techniques are featured, which eliminate a lot of the waste in time and effort, and focus on the issues that can positively end the dispute.
Please give it a look and let me know what you think.