The Mediation Practice Guide: A Handbook for Resolving Business Disputes is intended for a specific audience. This book, written by Bennet G. Picker and published as a project of the American Bar Association Section on Dispute Resolution, is a good primer for an attorney representing a client who is considering mediation. Outside of this audience, however, it may cause some friction.
The Guide provides a concise and well-organized overview of mediation and the mediation process for someone who may not be all that familiar with the concept. In addition, Picker spends time on often-neglected areas of mediation texts: the decision to mediate and the role of an advocate in mediation.
It is interesting that this book, although subtitled A Handbook for Resolving Business Disputes, is more concerned with helping advocates protect their clients than generating win-win solutions to business disputes. Although Picker is clear in indicating that the advocate's knowledge and ability can be of great assistance in generating a negotiated solution, the advocate's first and foremost obligation is to his or her client's interests. This said, it is important to realize that books such as the Mediation Practice Guide are an important contribution to the field of mediation. Not everyone participating in a mediation setting will be there willingly and far fewer will ignore their own interests for the sake of an agreement.
The guide provides many tools of use for the advocate or mediator. Included in the appendices are many resources including draft mediation agreements, mediator ethical guidelines and a checklist to help determine if a dispute is best mediated or litigated. As an introduction or a refresher, the Mediation Practice Guide will be of great use to the large number of attorneys who are being brought, willingly or not, to the mediation table.
OJPCR: The Online Journal of Peace and Conflict Resolution is published by the Tabula Rasa Institute, www.trinstitute.org.