Educate Don't Stagnate
Lawyers and mediators share a common goal, namely, we are problem solvers. How we go about solving problems might be different, but the skills needed for our mission are generally the same.
Mediation Problem Solving
What makes a good problem solver? For starters, communication is an essential skill for connecting with people and solving problems. Likewise, having some subject-matter expertise for the issue at hand will certainly help. Finally, some old-fashioned curiosity, willingness to learn, and the ability to think outside of the box can help generate solutions.
In the end, if you want to hone your craft, you will need to continue to develop your skills and enhance your knowledge. Failing to stay current or to expand your horizons will certainly lead to your stagnation. When that happens, you may find yourself only having skills and solutions for yesterday's problems and not today's problems or those you will undoubtedly confront in the future. Your ability to solve problems is directly proportional to the number of options that you can envision.
Mediation and Continued Legal Education
One way to increase the options available to you to solve problems is by continuing your education and training. Lucky for us, as lawyers, we are already required to do this with mandatory continuing legal education.
What I am suggesting is that when completing your continuing legal education requirements, throw yourself into those courses with genuine curiosity and the determination to learn something new. Choose something that is interesting for you but also something that you can apply to your practice to enhance your options for problem solving. Do not lose this opportunity and simply choose something convenient or that you listen to in the background while you work.
There are two great ways to accomplish your continued education and skill enhancement objectives. First, you can attend in-person conferences for those subjects that interest you and apply to your practice area. By doing this, you will be exposed to numerous presentations on the subject matter of choice and will mingle with other people that share your interests. Remember that idea for enhancing your communication and people skills?
The second great way to accomplish your continued education and growth is by educating others. Not only can you receive continuing education credits for teaching courses, but the preparation that you will need will certainly enhance your knowledge as well. And again, you will be interacting and communicating with others who want to learn what you have to share. As a win-win, you will be undoubtedly enhancing your communication and people skills.
Putting it to Practice
This month, I will be attending the annual Windstorm Insurance Network WIND Conference in Orlando that covers all matters related to property insurance claims. I do this as a mediator to keep up with the changes in Florida insurance law so I can be better equipped to help resolve insurance claim disputes. Likewise, I will attend the WIND Conference so I can become certified as a WIND umpire for the appraisal of insurance claims. By doing this, I am adding another tool to my toolbox for resolving disputes.
Just the same, later this month, I will also be presenting on a panel for the Broward County Bar Association on the topic of "Mindful Mediation" during the May Wellness e-series. In doing so, I will be able to guide a discussion that I absolutely enjoy and, all the while, hopefully, be able to help better equip others to resolve disputes while at mediation. I consider this to be a win-win.
So again, educate do not stagnate. You can continue to grow and develop a useful curiosity for solving problems by attending interesting continued legal education programs but also by helping to teach those same topics. Do this so we can have more resolution and less dispute.