By Matt Walker
Senior writer/Assistant magazine editor
The University of Florida Levin College of Law's Institute for Dispute Resolution hosted a mediation conference that attracted attendees from across north Florida in order to broaden their knowledge on a number of issues in mediation.
"Expanding the Horizons of Mediation," was the second CME/CLE fall conference the IDR has hosted in as many years, said IDR Director Robin Davis, and they plan on continuing the new tradition into the foreseeable future.
"We're now committed to presenting this program annually and gearing it toward the north Florida community," Davis said. "So many programs are presented in South and Central Florida and not many at all are presented here, so it's a service to our community and adjacent communities."
Davis said approximately 55 people attended the conference and she believes the attendees were able to greatly benefit from the event.
"I could give you a highlight for each one of the presenters; each one was excellent," she said.
The four presenters addressed very different topics within mediation.
Paul Wheeler, who is a national expert on domestic violence and served on Florida's Domestic Violence Task Force, presented "The Significance of Diminishment in Domestic Violence." Wheeler discussed how victims of domestic violence can have their sense of self undermined and strategies on how to address this issue in mediation.
Gary Canner, mediation counsel for Upchurch, Watson, White and Max, employed numerous interactive exercises in his presentation, "Are You Talkin' to Me?" Davis said the exercises illustrated the importance of being mindful of how and why mediators use the language they do; and how words can mean different things to different people and cultures.
Lynn Cole, a dispute resolution professional and Florida-certified mediator, looked at mediation in the civil law systems of several developing countries in "Mediation: Around the World in 80 Ways." She also addressed how business and economic factors can drive mediation.
Finally, Michael Orfinger, principal at Upchurch, Watson, White and Max, presented "The Ethical Negotiator's Guide to Navigating Rough Seas." The presentation revolved around a hypothetical case involving the castaways from Gilligan's Island in which the passengers have filed various lawsuits revolving around negligence of Skipper and Gilligan for shipwrecking their boat and stranding them on a deserted island.
Davis said she has received positive feedback from the conference and she believes the mediators will be able to implement the knowledge they gained in their practices.