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Jacky Lewis, Alternative Dispute Resolution Tutor and Mediator. What are the essential ingredients for a good mediation atmosphere and what further is needed to broker a successful resolution? The author says that mediators need the skills to encourage the parties (and their legal teams) to have trust in them and in the process; this is the foundation of any meaningful solution. Is it possible to engage effectively with parties who are deeply embedded in a conflict situation and then to go on to create a new interpersonal situation capable of movement and change? Mediators are not adjudicators or negotiators but facilitators, they ask questions but do not offer solutions, they do not arbitrate or even give legal advice. Mediators are intercessors between the parties and it is their neutral role that can actually contribute to an improved relationship between the parties. This is sometimes not an easy adjustment for lawyers to make.
A case study illustrating some of the aspects discussed in this article will appear in an article in April  Fam Law. See March  Fam Law 229 for the article 'Mediation - Where Psychology Meets Law'.
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