I gave the keynote at the NJAPM conference over the weekend. It was a great gathering, with some extremely smart and skilled mediators.
The highlight of the conference, for me, was a conversation we had in the afternoon about the future of the conflict resolution field, keyed primarily off of many of the points raised most eloquently in Bernie Mayer's book Beyond Neutrality (which I still think is the most important book that has been published in dispute resolution in the last 10 years, mine included). The conversation started out by focusing on how we can better market ADR, and it ended up by focusing on how maybe the way we think about and describe our value is a big part of the challenge in getting more work.I had no idea New Jersey was so far ahead in terms of certification of dispute resolution professionals and mandatory mediation. It was like a glimpse into the future of ADR, in a sense-- for years mediators have been asking for the things they already have in New Jersey, and it was clear from the gathering that certification and mandatory court referrals are not the panacea some people outside of New Jersey suspect they might be.
I love working at eBay and PayPal, but sometimes I miss direct interaction with other dispute resolution professionals, as there's no other ADR people around here. I think that's why it was so satisfying to spend the day with NJAPM. Anju is doing a great job running the organization, like Gail before her, and I think they are a great template for how the field can professionalize and at the same time preserve its core identity.