Conflict Resolution

Advanced Problem-Solving Strategies

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I recently succumbed to the need to upgrade my main law office website, jcmarkowitz.com, to make it look more professional and up-to-date. My law office site was one I created myself more than 10 years ago using the Blogger platform. About 6 years ago, I created this mediation site myself using Blogger. I still have a lot of affection for Blogger, which has a number of advantages going for it. Blogger is free. It is easy to set up and use. Editing posts, and even changing the layout and the template, is simple and intuitive. And the platform is more versatile than people give it credit for, allowing for some fairly sophisticated possibilities. On the other hand, Google doesn’t seem […]

Mediators often describe the process they lead as antithetical to the traditional justice system. I do it myself, sometimes explaining to the participants in a mediation that we do things in mediation the opposite way from court. For example, I might point out that in a courtroom, the judge is the most important person, and arguments in court are directed at the judge; while in mediation the parties are most important, and arguments are directed at each other. Mediators also sometimes try to persuade parties that the process is much better than litigation. Litigation is “bad” because it’s expensive; or because it’s adversarial; or because it produces far from perfect results. Mediation is “good” because it’s consensual; or because it’s […]

I moderated a panel this morning at the SXSW Interactive conference, on online dispute resolution, an appropriate topic for the techies who attend this event. I couldn’t help mentioning to one of my panelists, Colin Rule, that the last time he had appeared remotely at another conference I attended, we encountered a glitch in the Skype connection which made him unable to hear the questions being posed. So I was glad to have Colin at my side and in person this morning. Coincidentally, a couple of days ago at this conference, the exact same problem was suffered by Julian Assange who, being holed up in the Ecuadorean embassy in London, was only able to appear here by remote hookup. The […]

One of the plot lines of the new season of House of Cards (I’ll confess I’ve spent a good deal of President’s Day weekend binge-watching it), depicts a trade negotiation between the US and the Chinese that abounds in confusion and double-crossing. On the American side, the negotiator is our anti-hero, the new vice-president Frank Underwood, who repeatedly misrepresents to the President what his Chinese counterpart told him. On the other side, Xander Feng is a shady businessman who might–we are never sure–be speaking for the Chinese government or only for a faction trying to change government policy. Or he might be put away after a corruption trial. While exaggerated, this depiction of international diplomacy has its roots in reality. […]

In the climactic scene in the new movie Philomena (the title character played by Judi Dench), the two protagonists confront some of the Irish nuns who forced Philomena and other teenage girls to give up children born out of wedlock. The journalist Martin Sixsmith, played by Steve Coogan, has only harsh words for these nuns, angrily condemning them for their lies and brutality. Philomena, on the other hand, who suffered most directly from the sisters’ having wrenched her child from her, turns to one of the nuns responsible for her treatment, and says “I forgive you.” Both, it seems to me, are valid and understandable reactions. The journalist will channel his anger into writing a devastating exposé of the church’s harsh […]

I recently joined a psychological study, now in its third year, called the Good Judgment Project. The project asks groups of people of diverse backgrounds to make predictions about the the occurrence of various events, mostly in the realm of foreign affairs. This study has already had remarkable success in forecasting the likelihood of various world political and economic events, in contrast to the often dismal record of even highly renowned individual experts and pundits. Similarly, various trading exchanges that allow the public to purchase (with real or imaginary money) interests in various possible outcomes, have also had notable success in accurately predicting election results and such. These kinds of experiments demonstrate something about the wisdom of crowds. But the Good […]