by Gwyndolynn Gentry
On May 27, thirteen lawyer-mediators from the Delhi High Court Mediation and Conciliation Centre (“Samadhan”) and the Association of Indian Mediators graduated from the Mediation Train-the-Trainer program hosted by the University of Utah’s S.J. Quinney College of Law. The goal of the training was to prepare these mediators to train other attorneys in India to be mediators. The key themes were learning to “operationalize” concepts and theories, and “Indianizing” the course materials. In order to operationalize, the trainers learned how to create experiences for their students to draw on their personal experience to better understand concepts and theories about mediation. To Indianize the training materials, the attorneys were asked to make the content relevant to India by adapting it to mediation in India.
Jim Holbrook, a veteran mediator and clinical professor at the College of Law, led the group through his mediation teaching materials. The group practiced creating relevant content and effective methodology. Nancy McGahey, the Executive Director of Utah Dispute Resolution (UDR), also contributed. She explained how UDR mediator training is organized and she facilitated brainstorming sessions where the group discussed the challenges India currently is facing in mediation, especially in matrimonial and family dispute mediation. Dean Hiram Chodosh presented his vision for what Indian mediators will accomplish over the next five years and challenged the group to look more broadly and reach for even higher goals. Chodosh encouraged participatns to look past their current practice of mediation, which emphasizes rules, systems, processes, and court centers. Instead, he asked them to focus on empowering individual Indian citizens with the mediation capacity to resolve their own conflicts without having to go to court.
Participants worked hard during the weeklong course. They met from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. each day and many times met again at night to discuss the day’s events and prepare for the following day’s discussions. All of the Indian attorneys are both practicing litigators as well as mediators and frequently work 10 to 12 hour days in India. The current organizing secretary of Samadhan, Ms. Sadhana Ramachandran, explained that her mediation centre has been so successful in just the past five years because it is a “four-legged stool.” It enjoys support from the Delhi High Court judges. It is managed by senior lawyers in the Delhi High Court bar association. It is funded by the Delhi government. And it has ongoing collaboration with the S.J. Quinney College of Law.
This train-the-training program increases the number of skilled Indian mediation trainers to more than thirteen. The group also was able to build a foundation for an upcoming advanced matrimonial and family dispute mediation training program that will take place in New Delhi in the fall, as well as to begin planning a larger policy conference that will help shape mediation elsewhere in South Asia, and not just in India. Speaking about the broad impact the attendees can have on the future of mediation in India by determining policies that will shape the structure, availability, and regulation of mediation, Holbrook said, “I regard you not just as trainers of mediators in India, but the leaders of mediation in the future.” In closing the final training session, he added, “You are engaged in this immensely exciting enterprise in India and we in Utah are happy to play a small role in your success.”
To watch an introductory video about the Samadhan Mediation Center, click here.
Click on the link to read the SLC Principles for Mediating India, an overview on the collaboration between the College of Law, the Delhi High Court Mediation & Conciliation Centre, AMLEAD, and the Association of Indian Mediators.