Recently, La Trobe Law School Senior Lecturer Lola Akin Ojelabi attended and presented at the American Bar Association, Dispute Resolution Section Conference on April 21 2017.
She was part of a panel on ‘Comparative Views of the Mediator’s Role in Promoting Justice: Perspectives from the East and West’. Dr Lola Akin Ojelabi’s presentation titled ‘Mediators’ Perspectives on Justice in Mediation Practice: California and Australia’ focused on mediation standards in California and Australia and reported findings from empirical research conducted with 41 mediators from Australia and California.
Mediation’s critics, have, since the field’s inception, complained that “mediation is not about just settlement; it is just about settlement” (Genn 2012). The claim is that enthusiasm for agreement per se obscures the fact that some settlements are fairer than others and that power imbalances in the negotiation room can result in oppressive terms for the less resourced. Indeed, the question of who, if anyone, is responsible for the justice of the agreements mediated remains murky under most ethics codes.
The question of the proper role and function of the mediator is further complicated by the growing number of lawyers assuming the mediation mantle. Are these lawyer-mediators officers of the court, advocates for “the deal,” neutral intermediaries who have shrugged off all other roles – or something else entirely? And how do they interact with other lawyers in the mediation room who are simply advocates for their clients’ position?
The panel, featuring mediation scholars and practitioners from Australia, Hong Kong, Scotland and the United States will discuss both long-standing and recent ethical dilemmas arising out of the mediator’s and lawyer- mediator’s blurred role.
Continuing on the theme of justice in ADR, La Trobe Law School will hold a panel discussion on ADR and Justice on 15 June 2017.
Dr Lola Akin Ojelabi is admitted to practice law in Victoria, Australia (2004) and Nigeria (1992). Lola is also a Nationally Accredited Mediator (Australia). Prior to joining La Trobe University, Lola practised law for about ten years at a top tier law firm in Nigeria, Punuka Attorneys and Solicitors. Lola’s PhD examined the impact of culture on conflict and conflict resolution and how underlying values of the United Nations’ Charter may assist with resolution of seemingly intractable conflicts. This research resulted in the development of a framework for conflict resolution. Lola has researched and published in the field of conflict/dispute resolution including on DR processes and access to justice for disadvantaged groups and individuals and ethics in mediation practice. Lola is also interested in the role of international law in promoting global peace and justice.