[UF LAW eNews - a publication of the Levin College of Law @ the University of Florida]

Home | Print article | Contact eNews

Nearly 30 students participate in mediation training held by Conflict Resolution Initiative

Elinor Robin, Ph.D.

Elinor Robin, Ph.D., a practicing mediator and certified primary trainer with the Dispute Resolution Center for the Florida Supreme Court, conducted mediation training last week for nearly 30 law students. (Photo by Nicole Safker)

By Nicole Safker (2L)

Trustworthiness. Honesty. Persuasiveness. Compassion. Objectivity.

These are qualities of a good mediator identified by the 27 Levin College of Law students who took part in the first Mediation Training Program held March 18-21 at UF Law.

The training was hosted by the Conflict Resolution Initiative (CRI), a newly founded group sponsored by the Institute for Dispute Resolution (IDR), under direction of Legal Skills Professor Robin Davis, and Gators for Alternative Dispute Resolution (GADR).

The training was conducted by Elinor Robin, Ph.D., a practicing mediator and certified primary trainer with the Dispute Resolution Center for the Florida Supreme Court. To kick off the training, students attended registration and were provided breakfast before taking part in training sessions until 6:30 p.m. The weekend part of the training consisted of all-day training sessions with Robin.

Robin shared amusing anecdotes and stories with the group, drawn from her firsthand experience in dealing with diverse clients and disputes, and placed a strong emphasis on student participation in the training sessions. In the Friday afternoon session, students broke into groups and shared what they thought were qualities or characteristics that an effective mediator must possess. The small groups then collaborated to form a cumulative list.

Participation in the intensive training was the first step for the first group of 27 students to become Florida Supreme Court Certified County Court Mediators. They must also complete observation hours and submit applications to the Dispute Resolution Center of the Florida Supreme Court.

"Our main goals at CRI are to provide excellent and professional mediation services to the UF community while giving UF Law students the opportunity to become Florida Supreme Court Certified County Court Mediators," said Quentin Harris, a 1L and CRI member.

Harris said that in addition to helping students attain certification, the Institute plans to work closely with the Student Conduct and Conflict Resolution Center on main campus in partnership with Chris Loschiavo, assistant dean of students for UF. The Center has already referred several disputes for mediation to the law-student mediation group.

The Conflict Resolution Initiative has also embarked on an outreach campaign aimed to inform students and Gainesville residents of the mediation opportunity. The Initiative students who attended the training will seek out roommate disputes from the residence halls and other undergraduate disputes referred from the Center, as well as potential criminal claims from the UF and Gainesville Police Departments, disputes from apartment complexes and "a multitude of other disputes," Harris said.

H. Max Wihnyk, a 1L and member of the inaugural training group, recommends that students attend the training — as it is a great opportunity to not only improve mediation skills, but also will help prepare students to be better lawyers. He also emphasized the value of the service CRI mediators will provide to students. "Through mediation, we will be able to help students resolve their issues in a way that both can walk away knowing that their interest was treated equal to the other's," he said.

The Initiative plans bi-annual Mediation Training sessions for law students interested in serving as Certified County Court Mediators. UF Law students interested in participating in a future training session or who desire more information can email cri@law.ufl.edu or go on the Web at http://www.law.ufl.edu/idr/cri.