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A Social Service Agency on Use of Mediation

Mediation is considered to be the confidential process in the informal form including mediator’s activities aimed at case resolution facilitating without necessary aspects prescription. The analysis of this phenomenon is analyzed based on a special interview with the representative of Social Service Agency, Justin Patten, carried out on November, 22, 2009, for the investigation of problems and conflicts resolution through mediation usage; the interview was held over the phone. The conversation was built on the weighting advantages and disadvantages of the mediation process based on conflict spread in modern society.

Justin Patten is the Social Service Agency council and the member of Local Governmental Union; his role, as the representative of legal system, is aimed at settling the social cases before the court procedures and dealing with conflicts on local governmental level. His interview is dedicated to the disclosure of mediation meaning in the system of justice and social matters regulation in the work of social advocator. He described one of the cases he had to settle, ‘Melissa Jones and David Jones consulted the lawyer through their divorce and the necessity of property division; the case was settled on the basis of mediation rules, as the clients did not want to make their divorce be the theme for media and neighbors’. (Justin Patten, 2009) Melissa was a housewife and they have 4 children with David; the woman wanted to get the half of the property earned by her husband businessman. The problem settled in the court could disturb the reputation of the client and put a start to additional conflict connected with his business. This case has been one of the most considerable for the previous year, as it covered a lot of concepts, and even involved some problems in accordance with family law. Nevertheless, the lawyers successfully settled this conflict satisfying the interests of both parties. Patten exemplified the mediation case moving slowly to the advantages of the process allowing sticking to it by the majority of the population. (Barsky, 2007)

What is the meaning of mediation in practice? Justin Patten touched on the pluses of mediation theory development in modern society concentrating on confidentiality of this process; he managed to stress the idea that all mediation conversations are totally confidential. It means that the statements of the participants and the product of the mediator’s work cannot be disclosed in the court trial. ‘There are some private sessions which cannot be even shared with the third party in case of no permission; it is presented in the form of agreement between the mediator and the single party.’ (Justin Patten, 2009)

Justin Patten strived to exemplify the mediation theory usage not only in social sphere but in the system of justice as well. It is important to underline the fact that he touched on the introduction of Appellate Mediation in the Alabama Supreme Court Committee; the principle purpose of this program is considered to be the attempts to benefit the citizens through creative alternative providing to the appellate processes. This process is aimed at allowing the population to stick to less expensive and more expeditious methods of conflicts and problems resolution on the social level. Justin Patten was asked as to the frequency and necessity of mediation process following in social case resolution through his own agency experience; he managed to highlight the power of this tool in the resolution of legal disputes. Special attention was paid to issues experienced by Justin Patten’s work in the agency; he managed to explain through the interview the role of mediation as forward attributing to various legal and social dilemmas.

Why have you selected this very activity? The choice of his work was closely connected with the importance of this issue, as Patten felt the challenges in the intellectual sphere and the level of interpersonal interaction in work. According to his experience, the mediation expertise efficiently works, due to effective mediation training and involvement in this sphere. It is necessary to underline the fact that Patten concentrates on the following mediation types faced in modern practice; they are based on differentiating between Alternative dispute Resolution forms, which are the following: arbitration, conciliation, negotiation and mediation. The analysis of family law conflicts is to be concentrated on the mediation, having more direct meaning than commercial mediation. (Leviton, 1996)

In what way social sphere is connected with mediation? Patten disclosed the interdependence between external cases experienced by his agency with the system of justice. Social conflicts in most cases are to be resolved on the legal level with the involvement of lawyers and agreement between the mediator and the participant. Regarding the question as to the interconnection between legal intervention and mediation, Patten underlined the importance for any lawyer to settle the conflict and meet the requirements of the client. In about 70% of all the cases the process of mediation works as the key tool for problem solution giving an opportunity to settle everything before the trial.

Patten stresses, that confidentiality and time are considered to be the most important elements making the mediation process beneficial in social and legal spheres; the court investigation often takes a lot of time for prior discovery, appeal and jury trial; all the case details can be settled without complicated formal documentations and long investigation. Patten highlighted that the Jones case analysis demonstrated the satisfaction and final effect of the mediation process; the process is always presented on the highest level leading to the client’s satisfaction.

Mediation can be the method of complete and partial resolution of the conflict; ‘as my experience has shown, the participants apply to this process in all possible claims relying on the binding effect of the resolution of the problem.’, said Patten. Mediation is considered to be a voluntary process to be used in case of parties’ mutual agreement; the process is usually identified through the requirements and limitations of the mediator. The representative of justice system has no right to share the information and the flow of affairs with any other members of the court system, even for consulting or asking for qualification aid.

The introduction of mediation system in Family justice appeared to demonstrate more and more effective results, as it was stated by Patten; he stressed the necessity of the participants to be open in case resolution; the mediator’s coaxing for the involved parties’ good nature can be regarded idealistic, nevertheless, he can identify and communicate with the ‘problematic’ party, which is usually in the mediator’s interests through better access to case resolution.

The analysis of the interview demonstrated the investigation of the mediation method principles 0of work and spheres of its involvement; the paper managed to cover mediator bias, limitations, and advantages, as well as confidentiality and power of this tool usage in conflict resolutions. The interview appeared to be a considerable contribution to the development of mediation background knowledge providing additional experience to social and legal science.

The interview carried out with Patten helped to understand the role of mediation process in the system of justice and social affairs resolution. The conversation with Social Agency representative highlighted the importance and advantages of mediation process, allowing settling the problems in an easier and quicker way. The confidentiality of the process helps the participants to feel safe for their data privacy; though the method is not legal, it is formally written in the special agreement which is a kind of insurance for appropriate conflict settlement.


Barsky, A. E. (2007). Conflict resolution for the helping professions (2nd ed.), Belmont, CA: Thomson Learning.

Leviton, S. C., & Greenstone, J. L. (1996) Elements of mediation, (1 ed.). Brooks/Cole, a division of Thomson Learning, Inc.

Patten, Justin. Social Service Agency council; member of the Local Governmental union, 755 First St. N.E., Suite 700, Washington. Interview held, 2009.


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