So, I am honored to have been invited to teach at Pepperdine University’s Straus Institute for Dispute Resolution in May 2012, and in January 2013. How did this happen?
I’ve been teaching mediation advocacy and negotiation for years, mostly to attorneys, some to law students and to college students. But recently, it has exploded.
It all started to multiply this Spring when I agreed to speak to the Community Association Institute, Las Vegas. As I walked through the smoky casino, I wondered what I was doing. In the Fall, I had spoken to a similar group in Reno about working with difficult personalities in community associations, and they liked it. So, here I was.
I was shocked to walk into an enormous room with seating for 200. I’d better do a good job, I thought. The group was interactive, they raised great questions, and the hour flew. It felt like an intimate gathering. I was having fun.
The very next day, I was at the J. Reuben Clark Law School at Brigham Young University in Provo, Utah speaking to law students about mediation. I was immediately struck by the contrast to Las Vegas. Younger students, fewer life experiences, no profanities allowed, and many pregnant women. Still, we had an engaging, interactive discussion about mediating lawsuits in commercial cases.
In April, I agreed to be a Co-Adjunct Professor teaching Negotiation, Mediation and Conflict Resolution to a students getting their Master’s Degree in Public Administration at the University of Utah. Teach on Friday nights and Saturdays? Still, it sounded fun. I was clearly nuts. But, what a fantastic group of folks in government. They are sharp and curious.
Later in April, I was in Washington D.C., at a combined seminar of the ABA Dispute Resolution Section and the International Academy of Mediators. While there, I taught with Susan Hammer, Eric Galton and Jerome Weiss about moving attorneys and clients to productive negotiations rather than positional bargaining. Professor Peter Robinson of Pepperdine University’s Straus Institute for Dispute Resolution and I went to lunch to discuss a closer relationship between the International Academy of Mediators and Pepperdine University. Shortly after our lunch, he asked me if I would teach a one-week intensive program on Mediation Theory and Practice at Pepperdine University. Pepperdine University’s Straus Institute for Dispute Resolution has one of the finest reputations in the country for teaching mediation to law students, lawyers and aspiring mediators. I had to make it work. Pepperdine is where I send people who want training. What a great opportunity. And, as I sit here surrounded by materials, textbooks, and simulations preparing a syllabus, I am thinking — this all happened rather suddenly.
So, I guess it shouldn’t surprise me that a very close friend recently asked “What’s going on? Are you changing direction?” Well, my mediation practice remains busy. Teaching, however, is invigorating. But when you teach, you learn. And, as I mediated a most difficult case yesterday, all the tools of the trade were fresh on my mind allowing me to help those clients reach closure.