By Kamaljit K. Lehal
Originally published in the Verdict | Issue 145 | Summer 2015
Kamaljit K.Lehal is a lawyer practicing in administrative law, immigration, personal injury, and mediation matters. Ms. Lehal received her law degree from the University of British Columbia in 1989, and she completed mediation training from Harvard Law School. Ms. Lehal was recently appointed to the Civil Resolution Tribunal. She was a member of the British Columbia Review Board from 1998 to 2010, serving in the capacity of Alternate Chair. Active in her community, Ms. Lehal serves on the board of directors of Options Community Services Society (since 1996), a non-profit organization that that supports families and community health. She is also involved in the Community Coordination for Women’s Safety and has acted as supervising lawyer for EVA BC, the Ending Violence Association of British Columbia, on a Law Foundation project addressing domestic violence and immigrant women. She is also a member of NEVR, the Network to End Violence in Relationships.
Co-mediation is a unique model in which two professionals work together to facilitate resolution of a dispute. Co-mediation is often used as a training model for new mediators, i.e. pairing a rookie mediator with a senior mediator. I first became acquainted with the co-mediation model, when, as a newly minted mediator, I worked with a mentor mediator. In my co-mediation sessions, my mentor mediator was not identified as the senior mediator to the parties. Instead, we were presented to the parties as equals. Because of this, co-mediation was a very effective way for me to interact with the parties while learning how to navigate the mediation process, all the while guided by a seasoned mediator. The co-mediation model allowed me to quickly gain key skills and confidence as a mediator. When I graduated to doing solo mediation, although I felt very comfortable and enjoyed the work, I felt there was something missing and realized that I preferred co-mediation to the more traditional solo mediation model. I came to understand that there are many benefits to co-mediation and embraced the style. However, it also became clear that many others do not understand co-mediation and that, as a model, it is vastly under-utilized. This article addresses the benefits of co-mediation. I hope that after reading it you will come to understand its benefits, as I have.
Keeping Parties Engaged
One very evident benefit I observed from co-mediating was that the parties remained more engaged and informed throughout the process. Co-mediators are able to split up and spend more time with all of the parties, keeping them updated and informed as matters progress. In contrast, when mediating alone and shuffling between caucus rooms, I have experienced instances where one party would get more air time than the other. One concern is that the party who is not getting equivalent time becomes disengaged, or starts to believe the process is not evenly balanced. With two mediators, this is not an obstacle; parties are constantly kept in the loop and this helps to move matters forward at a faster pace. For myself, I have found that having a co-mediator partner keeps me more motivated and feeling less isolated than when I am running a mediation on my own. The co-mediation model is a very effective model for maintaining momentum and keeping people focused on achieving a resolution.
Learn more about the Benefits of Co-Mediation by reading the full article pdf here.