Developing Your Career in Mediation Course Has Launched

Developing Your Career in Mediation Edwards Mediation Academy has recently launched a new online course, Developing Your Career in Mediation. This course is for everyone who is considering a career in dispute resolution, as well as individuals who are seeking to enhance their existing career. Like all Edwards Mediation Academy Courses, the Developing Your Career in Mediation is taught by acknowledged experts and pioneers in the mediation field. Developing Your Career in Mediation is geared toward an international audience of legal professionals, human relations managers, business and nonprofit professionals, community leaders, and ombuds. It encourages a “macro” perspective, challenging students to think broadly about the mediation field and their desired focus, whether commercial, community, corporate, government or public policy. At the same time, the course offers a “micro” perspective, providing specific, proven steps that will lead to successful career development or enhancement. The course begins with an overview of the skills and personality characteristics necessary to become a successful mediator. It continues with a discussion of effective training and educational opportunities that will assist students in defining and differentiating their careers. Developing Your Career in Mediation is designed to be interactive and draws on rich commentary by experts who have developed successful mediation careers. By listening to theirs and others’ stories, drawn from examples around the world, participants hear about common challenges and strategies for developing their career, while finding personal fulfillment. After the course is complete, the workbook becomes a strategic action plan that students can use as they move forward. Developing Your Career in Mediation is designed for online learning, taken on students’ own schedule and in their own space. It typically takes eight to ten hours to complete. The Developing Your Career in Mediation course is an addition to three Edwards Mediation Academy courses: Advanced Mediation, Mediation Skills, and Mediation Skills for the Indian Audience. “You have created a wonderful course. The insights are easy to remember, the expert commentary is insightful and by watching, one can only benefit from the wealth of experience.” – Pirita Virtanen, mediator.

Bruce’s interview with

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Bruce was interviewed by Clare Fowler of earlier this Spring.  

She asked him a variety of questions ranging from the state of mediation today to mediation & arbitration in India. We’ve segmented the video by topic for your convenience. If you’re on the go, you can click audio to listen.

Mediation, Where Are We Headed?

Bruce shares his insights on the commercial field of mediation, where we are today and where we are headed.  Can the practice of mediation stay true to the core concepts of interest based dialogue and the right of self determination, if co-opted by lawyers looking only to get a deal done?  How can we expand these lessons into broader society?


Neurobiological Approach to Conflict

Conflict and the language of conflict resolution is universal. In this video, Bruce shares his thinking about neurobiological development and how this allows him to develop thoughtful ways to address conflict.


The State of Mediation in India


In India, with over 60 million cases in the court system, access to justice is hard to achieve.  Bruce illustrates the power of mediation to help unclog the court system for all disputes throughout India.


Challenges to building a culture of commercial mediation in India

Bruce describes the challenges and the opportunities for building a culture of mediation in India.


Arbitration in cross border disputes (and the Singapore Convention)

While Bruce’s standard practice and vision is the empowerment and facilitation of decision making processes among parties, arbitration in many parts of the world is the standard, if not the preferred legal route. With the large number of cross border disputes going to arbitration, can mediation become the first stop on the stair step of dispute resolution forums?


Bruce A. Edwards is an ADR industry pioneer and recent chairman of the board of directors of JAMS, this country’s largest private provider of ADR services. Along with his wife, Susan Franson Edwards, Mr. Edwards recently cofounded Edwards Mediation Academy, an online education platform dedicated to improving the skills of mediators around the world.

Mediation Skills Course in Ohio

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EMA is pleased to announce that our Mediation Skills Course has been approved as self study for 31 continuing legal education (CLE) hours with the Supreme Court of Ohio.

This is in addition to approval by the California Bar Association for 31 hours of CLE, including 2.25 Ethics hours and 2.5 Bias hours. Our Mediation Skills course is also approved for 31 CME in the State of Arkansas and 31 CLE of self-study for the State of Utah. 

Many states share reciprocity with California and/or Ohio.  If you are interested in CLEs from another state, please contact us or to your state bar association with questions about reciprocity. 

We will continue to announce new CLE credits as they become available for our courses.

Susan Franson Edwards is responsible for the day-to-day operations of Edwards Mediation Academy, including the production of online mediation education and training courses, product marketing and customer relations. She co-founded Edwards Mediation Academy with Bruce Edwards in 2014 in an effort to deliver the highest quality mediation training to a worldwide audience.

Vivien B. Williamson, Mediating with Empathy

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Attorney Vivien Williamson has been a mediator since 1987. She has helped resolve thousands of disputes, from employment to civil rights; earth movement to personal injury. In her employment law practice, she has mediated hundreds of claims of sexual harassment; disability, gender and age discrimination, among others. Vivien is known for her ability to take on and mediate highly emotional cases.

Vivien is also a teacher and mentor. She has taught mediation and negotiation at Hastings College of the Law, as well as other law schools and universities. She has made numerous presentations on ADR to bar associations, law firms, professional societies and other organizations across the country. She is often retained by organizations to consult on the design and implementation of conflict management systems.

What I most admire about Vivien is her intuitive, empathic approach to mediation. Even as a young child, she always knew that she wanted to be a mediator. She is one of the few attorneys I know who went to law school expressly to study mediation. Vivien is one of our Edwards Mediation Academy expert instructors.

Following are some of Vivien’s nuggets of mediation wisdom:

On emotion in mediation

The mediator needs to focus on the participants’ emotions throughout the mediation. Vivien can recall situations, for example, where a lawyer doesn’t think emotion is quite appropriate in the process, while she sees that the party is suppressing his or her emotions.

Whenever that happens, Vivien finds a way to make it safe for the party to come to a place where they can talk about what they are feeling. For the party to feel safe, sometimes Vivian has directed a lawyer to leave the room in a non-confrontational way. At other times, she has used humor to allow the party to open up in front of their counsel. Vivien instinctively understands different peoples’ bandwidth for dealing with emotion.

On providing a safe environment

Because Vivien is so comfortable with emotion, she provides an atmosphere where others (both parties and counsel) feel at ease. She once had a lawyer (after a particularly difficult mediation) tell her, “You remind me of my Aunt Susan… you’re kind of a frumpy dresser…I just feel really safe around you.”

On paying attention to non-verbal communication

Vivien notes that lawyers are wordsmiths, and most have huge vocabularies. Over the years, she has started paying attention to what she is hearing behind the words by watching peoples’ body language very carefully. She especially notices clinched jaws and lack of eye contact. The biggest mistakes she has made, however, were presuming that she knew what that nonverbal communication meant.

She used to see someone rolling their eyes, for example, and assume that they were lying, when instead they might be thinking that someone else in the room was being an idiot. Now, rather than assuming what is behind the nonverbal cues, she bluntly asks for clarification in a non-threatening, often humorous way.

To me, these nuggets of mediation wisdom will be Vivien’s legacy.

Susan Franson Edwards is responsible for the day-to-day operations of Edwards Mediation Academy, including the production of online mediation education and training courses, product marketing and customer relations. She co-founded Edwards Mediation Academy with Bruce Edwards in 2014 in an effort to deliver the highest quality mediation training to a worldwide audience.

Nina Meierding, Culture and Its Impact on Mediation


Attorney Nina Meierding has mediated over 4,000 disputes in her more than 30 years in thenina conflict resolution field. She has also conducted mediation training in 45 states and throughout the world, including: Canada, Sweden, Ireland, England, Scotland, the Netherlands, New Zealand, and India.

Nina is one of our valued Edwards Mediation Academy instructors. What I especially appreciate about Nina is her ability to understand and take into consideration how differences in culture and communication styles affect every mediation.

Nina believes that everyone operates with implicit bias, meaning we don’t even know we have it most of the time. We have biases that affect everything that we do, and it’s going to affect the behavior that we exhibit in mediation. Nina always tells her clients, “My role is to treat you equally and fairly, and to be balanced in how I work with you. And if at any time you feel that I’m not doing that, if at any time you feel that I’m on one side more than the other, I want you to talk to me about it.” Nina has never, in over 4,000 mediations, been dismissed for lack of neutrality.

On becoming a mediator

Nina’s first career was in special education. After she earned a masters degree, she began working in a residential facility for kids who have severe emotional disturbances. Nina became very passionate about making an impact on a larger level, so she decided to go to law school. As an attorney, she focused on high-emotion issues, such as special education, family, and employment cases, class-action lawsuits and discrimination. She soon realized there was a great need for a process where people could sit down and talk to resolve their issues, so she became a mediator.

Just as her Special Ed students would sometimes think, “I can’t do this,” Nina often finds that individuals in mediation can feel that way too. Her clients may say, “It doesn’t matter, the world is against me.” Or, “How can anything be fair?” Nina believes it is her role as a mediator to help them assert themselves in a way that has the strength of conviction but still honors the emotions and beliefs of the other side.

Addressing cultural differences in mediation

Nina believes that by changing a person’s behavior, you can eventually change their beliefs. An example of this is a mediation she conducted involving both cross-cultural and gender issues.

This mediation centered on a physician who came from a country where there was a historical power distance between males and females. Due to his cultural beliefs, the physician made the work environment so difficult that the nurses who worked with him, primarily women, said they were going file a claim for hostile work environment and discrimination. The nurses were really, really upset.

When Nina met with the physician, he said, “I know that you are here to tell me that men and women are equal.” Instead of acknowledging her own beliefs that, yes, men and women are equal, Nina said, “No, that’s not why I am here. The way you are working with the nurses right now doesn’t meet employer guidelines within this medical facility. You have the power to make one of three decisions. You can believe what you want to believe about men and women, and you can continue behaving the way you have been behaving, in which case your decision will be not to work here any longer. Or, you can continue to believe what you want to believe but decide to stay here and change your behavior. You can also choose to change your beliefs and change your behavior, in which case you’ve also decided to stay. So, it’s really up to you. You have all the power to decide how this turns out.”

The physician said that he needed a week to think it over. When he and Nina met again, the physician said, “I’ve chosen number two. I’m going to believe what I want to believe, but I’m going to change my behavior.” He then asked Nina to help him change his behavior, and she and the physician talked for two and one-half hours. By not trying to change his beliefs at the onset, Nina opened the door for him to change his behavior. His beliefs may follow.

Susan Franson Edwards co-founded Edwards Mediation Academy with Bruce Edwards in 2014 in an effort to deliver the highest quality mediation training to a worldwide audience.

Dana Curtis, Mediation as a Way of Rebuilding Relationships

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Dana CurtisAnother one of our exceptional Edwards Mediation Academy instructors is Dana Curtis. Dana was among the first attorneys in the U.S. to devote her career exclusively to mediation, and she began her full-time mediation practice in 1991. She has been a teacher of mediation, negotiation and other conflict management programs for over 25 years, including at Stanford and Harvard.

What I especially admire about Dana is her exceptional skill with difficult and highly emotional situations. She is particularly adept at helping individuals involved in a dispute understand how they may be contributing to the conflict so that they can begin to rebuild a positive relationship with one another.

On becoming a mediator

Dana had been a teacher for 13 years and then decided to go to law school. In her second year of law school, she took a course that had mediation as a component.  She immediately knew, “This is what I want to do.” Mediation made sense to Dana because it includes the personal component of a conflict: all of the personalities, all of the emotions. Dana believes it’s been a huge help to her as a mediator to have a teaching background because, many times, what a mediator is doing is helping people learn a different way of thinking – a new way of relating to each other and having conversations that they haven’t had before.

For Dana, every mediation is analytical as well as emotional, and she brings an intense curiosity to each situation. She asks probing questions, and listens deeply with empathy and compassion. Dana believes that the highest potential of mediation is to help people find closure and, where they can, connection.

Addressing the relationship first

One of the techniques Dana employees in highly emotional situations is to address the relationship issues first, before the mediation begins. For example, in a mediation with a brother and sister involving real estate holdings, Dana spoke separately with each of them, before the mediation, about the quality of their relationship. The brother and sister hadn’t really connected since they were young. Dana helped them sort through some of the difficult situations in the past that had left bad feelings. Through her questions, she learned that both would like to have a better relationship going forward. She convened the mediation with their commitment to work toward that goal.

During the mediation, it was all about solving the problem, rather than about how badly they felt and how mad they were. They were able to talk through their issues and really connect on a personal level. The brother and sister ended up being amazingly generous with each other and achieved a level of resolution that was much greater than figuring out who received which apartment.

There was a point where the brother said to his sister, “You know, I’ve grown a lot. Let me tell you what’s going on in my life.” The sister said to Dana at the end of the day, “I have never felt so close to my brother in my whole life.”

Helping people connect

This is what inspires Dana most: she deeply wants to help people connect rather than pursue lawsuits. Dana Curtis believes that if people can truly understand each other and develop a respectful attitude toward each other again, a lot can happen.

Susan Franson Edwards co-founded Edwards Mediation Academy with Bruce Edwards in 2014 in an effort to deliver the highest quality mediation training to a worldwide audience.

Rebecca Westerfield, Making People Feel Comfortable

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Rebecca WesterfieldOne of our exceptional Edwards Mediation Academy instructors is Rebecca Westerfield. Rebecca has been mediating for over 22 years and has settled and arbitrated over 2,500 cases throughout the United States and internationally. One of the qualities I most admire about Rebecca is her wonderful way of making people feel comfortable and understood.

On becoming a mediator

Before becoming a mediator, Rebecca had been a sitting judge. What made Rebecca decide to become a mediator was her genuine desire to help people. Rebecca believes that our legal system sometimes creates obstacles and barricades to the exchange of interests and information that could create a much more satisfying resolution for everyone. Mediation helps cut through these barricades and enables the parties involved to determine their own outcome. What Rebecca brings to every mediation is her real desire to want to serve.

Slowing things down

Rebecca believes that hospitality is a very big part of mediation. She spends a lot of time trying to create relationships and connections, and that means slowing things down from the beginning. Rebecca wants people to become completely comfortable with her and the mediation process before delving into it. She creates a rapport and a personal connection with her clients that helps her to see them and their case in a unique way – not just another case, as usual, but their case.

One of the ways Rebecca approaches this “purposeful deceleration” is to, in the cadence of her voice, slow things down. She invites people to be engaged in conversation. She tries to find out things about them – who they are and what is important to them. She asks very open-ended questions and tries to find common points of interest. It might be travel, it might be a favorite book, it might be a movie they’ve seen, and she builds on that.

Rebecca understands that different people need different things to help them become comfortable with the mediation process. For example, she had a case involving a family member who was badly injured in a major catastrophe. She went to the family’s home on a Saturday morning to see them in their home environment, and to give them an opportunity to show her what their everyday life was like.

She took flowers, and they served her tea. They had a lovely conversation. She found that she was able to fully appreciate what they were living with, due to the injuries. The family realized that Rebecca understood what they were living with and respected what they were going through. They knew she understood their situation in a way that wasn’t artificial. As a result of that visit, Rebecca was able to be much more responsive to their real concerns and interests during the mediation process. 

Envisioning the future

Rebecca invites her clients to envision the future they want, one that is beyond the anger or pain they may feel in the present moment. She will ask the parties to share with her what they want their life to look like a year from now. What do they want their business to be doing a year from now?  Do they want to make their business a lawsuit, or would they rather be producing widgets and marketing them. She finds that these types of discussions often help individuals move through their emotions to a satisfying resolution.

Susan Franson Edwards co-founded Edwards Mediation Academy with Bruce Edwards in 2014 in an effort to deliver the highest quality mediation training to a worldwide audience.

Solving Social Challenges Through Collaboration

This past week, I was fortunate enough to participate in Convergence Center for Policy Resolution’s leadership council meeting in Washington, DC.  It was a truly uplifting and inspirational day of conversation.

Founded in 2009, Convergence is a non-profit organization that uses mediation skills (respectful dialogue and listening for the most part) to build trust, identify solutions, and form alliances between people with very diverse views on critical national issues. Through proactive, nonpartisan engagement of influential individuals and organizations, they seek to create new pathways to move our country and society forward. On issue after issue, they engage an extraordinary network of people – business leaders, policy practitioners, non-profit executives, formerly elected officials, think-tank experts, academics, and community leaders –  by shifting the focus from winning the debate to collectively seeking solutions. Then, they empower and support unlikely alliances to create change at the local, state, and national levels.

The most obvious and timely example of their work is the Health Reform Roundtable, a group of ten nationally recognized experts and advocates on healthcare who represent diverse viewpoints in the healthcare debate.  This group has been meeting since March, and in August, they issued proposals for Congressional action on health reform that has been credited with helping to shift the mindset on Capitol Hill toward bipartisan solutions.

Just imagine what we could accomplish if more of our issues were resolved through collective collaboration.

Other Convergence projects include:

Economic Mobility and Poverty

Bringing people together to catalyze meaningful policy, programmatic, and private sector changes to help more people experience upward economic mobility through work.

Federal Budget Process Reform

Designing a new framework for the budget process to help the country move beyond the current stalemates.

K-12 Education

Seeking to accelerate the growth and impact of the learner-centered education movement in the United States. This initiative of Convergence, called Education Reimagined, has quickly become a respected national voice on educational change. Diverse educational stakeholders including the National Education Association, Google, and educational consulting company KnowledgeWorks, among others, credit Education Reimagined’s vision statement as an important influence in their work.

Long-Term Care

Financing Collaborative – Recommended a series of public and private efforts that address the urgent, unmet need for financing care for elderly and disabled Americans.

Nutrition and Wellness

Explored cross-sector approaches to improve American diets in order to reduce obesity, diabetes, and other nutrition-related problems. PNW members worked with the National Association of Convenience Stores over a two-year period to market healthier food choices to consumers nationwide.

U.S.-Pakistan Leaders Forum

Provided a platform for leaders from both countries to build new relationships that create value and can serve as a strong “shock absorber” for the tensions that arise in official ties.  As a result of their participation, participants from UC Davis and the University of Agriculture in Faisalabad developed a USAID funded $17-million dollar initiative called the U.S.-Pakistan Center for Advanced Studies in Agriculture and Food Security at both universities.

For more information on Convergence and their projects, visit www.

Susan Franson Edwards co-founded Edwards Mediation Academy with Bruce Edwards in 2014 in an effort to deliver the highest quality mediation training to a worldwide audience.

Hear about mediation in post-genocide Rwanda

As written by Emily Gould, co-director of the African Peace Partners:

Construction on the Ihumure Peace Center in Rwanda will begin in August thanks to a kick off grant from the Edwards Mediation Academy. The Center is a first of its kind in that it integrates trauma recovery, dispute resolution and cooperative economic self – sufficiency programs. In addition to serving the Rwandan community around it, the Center is envisioned as a training center for community mediators in Rwanda and also nearby Congo. Building on the gift from Edwards Mediation Academy, African Peace Partners, a US based non-profit that supports Ihumure, is embarking on a capital campaign to raise fund to finish the building in 2016. You can learn more about trauma informed mediation in Rwanda and Ihumure’s remarkable successes at a Reception at Hastings Law School on March 2 from 5 – 7 PM. Come be inspired by remarkable people in Rwanda and in the U.S who demonstrate the capacity of the human spirit to heal and build peace.



Bruce A. Edwards is an ADR industry pioneer and recent chairman of the board of directors of JAMS, this country’s largest private provider of ADR services. Along with his wife, Susan Franson Edwards, Mr. Edwards recently cofounded Edwards Mediation Academy, an online education platform dedicated to improving the skills of mediators around the world.