Last month, students in the Conflict and Mediation master’s degree program were presented with an opportunity to participate in the International Law School Mediation Tournament and Mediation Forum hosted by the International Academy of Dispute Resolution (INADR). Loyola University Chicago School of Law co-sponsors the event every other year, hosting over 350 mediators, judges, coaches, and students from all over the world for four days of presentations, trainings, competition rounds, and social events. Fifty-eight teams (about 200 students) participated in the competition this year and had the pleasure of learning from not only the prestigious programming, but also through the unique experiences and various interpersonal relationships formed during the tournament. Following the initial trainings, teams participated in three competition rounds with each student experiencing all three of the roles involved in the mediation process – mediator, advocate and client. A variety of complex and realistic case descriptions were provided in advance then, about an hour before the round began, a private fact sheet was provided to each team. Students were given 90 minutes to conduct their mediation and were scored based on a clearly outlined criteria sheet that was reviewed by two judges.
Two students in Roosevelt University’s Conflict & Mediation, MA program, Katie Oliver and Aya Sato (along with a student from Boston University), came together to form a team. Katie and Aya eagerly took advantage of the chance to put all of their skills learned throughout the program to the test. Huge congratulations to the Roosevelt team for earning the 2020 New Mediator Program Award! The Roosevelt team was coached by John Lag, a board member of INADR, attorney, and a renowned international mediator. After recently learning about the Conflict & Mediation program through a family member who works at Roosevelt, John reached out to the program director, Carrie Lausen, about getting a team together for the tournament. Carrie reached out to students in the program and John volunteered several hours to talk with interested students about the tournament and to help Katie and Aya prepare.
I was fortunate to speak with Katie and Aya about their experience and was ecstatic to hear their incredibly positive feedback. Both students expressed that although they had been invited to the tournament with less notice than other teams and had a different educational background than most of the other students in the tournament who attended law school, they were very happy with their performance. Both students favored a different mediation round and different role, but left with similar perspectives and takeaways. Katie found it interesting to see how mediators set a different tone in one of her specific rounds. She felt as though the situation was very real and learned how to balance two clients’ involvement as a mediator throughout the exposure and exercise. Aya noted that her favorite round was the final as it helped her grow and obtain a new perspective. She was able to get a sense of what it is like for two parties to come to a resolution that benefits both sides. Both students agreed that learning mediation and facilitation techniques in the classroom is very different than putting the skills into practice in a real situation. Aya said, “There are so many things we have to worry about, but when you are in the moment mediating, you can’t get caught up in those aspects and just have to focus on the session.”
Katie and Aya both expressed how grateful they were for this opportunity and how the process demonstrated various class content to be relevant. Most prominently, they learned about improving upon one’s strongest aspects and skills before stressing too much about the weakest. Katie shared how great it was to be able to gain exposure to an organization like INADR. She is hopeful that the Conflict and Mediation program at Roosevelt can and will continue to be involved in the tournament. Aya mentioned that a mediation club would be a great contribution to students’ educational experiences in the Conflict and Mediation program. This would allow for students to effectively prepare and practice for tournaments in the future, as well as gain additional experience overall. Katie acknowledged that she would like to go back and perform in the tournament again, and Aya seemed to be on the same page! I am excited to see how these students continue to benefit from this experience as they take more conflict and mediation classes at Roosevelt. I am also hopeful that the Conflict and Mediation program will benefit from their insights and implement new unique aspects to the program.
Written by Jessica Lusky
Roosevelt University, Master of Arts in Conflict & Mediation