In this episode of EVA, I raised the following questions:
a) How did you start your Journey as an ADR Practitioner to be precise Mediator?
b) Can anyone be a mediator?
c) Do mediators require a formal education?
d) Do mediators need to be knowledgeable in Psychology?
e) How do you plan your sessions?
d) What is the meaning of Pre-Mediation Session and Caucusing?
f) How do you get difficult parties to open up during Mediation?
g) What models of mediation do you use?
h) Which is simpler- mediation or litigation?
i) What is your advice for people who want to start a career in Mediation or ADR?
I had the opportunity to discuss the questions above with Mrs Efunronke Omolara Koku, a notary public of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, who learnt the ropes of the legal profession from her late father Josiah Akinola, a profound legal icon. She incorporated Ronke Somefun & Company Legal Practitioners and later built a career in Alternative Dispute Resolution. She is a qualified International Accredited Mediator from the Dispute Resolution Centre, Bond University, Australia, an International and Cross-Cultural Negotiator, ESSEC Business School, an Associate Member of the Chartered Institute of Arbitrators, United Kingdom (Nigeria branch), and a member of the Institute of Chartered Mediators and Conciliators. Some of the organisations she had provided mediation training are the staff of Central Bank of Nigeria and Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC).
Additionally, she organises training courses in workplace mediation, family mediation, peer mediation, and youth development programs. Her passion for empowering the youths in any way possible led her to establish ‘The Doors Empowerment and Initiative’, an NGO whose aims/objectives include, but not limited to, preparing the Youths for the future through motivational Talks and skilful careers, amongst other projects. She believes that if the transition of a child to adulthood is not well managed, a great tendency that such child will fall prey to negative peer pressure, the effect of which will be devastating on the society. Some public schools and tertiary institutions in Lagos state have benefited from this initiative.
Her book, “Stand out or Blend in” … an insight into peer pressure helps the thinking and behavioural pattern of youths on how to resist peer pressure. She believes mediation skills are 21st-century weapons to handle present-day behavioural attitudes. Through her encouraging words and book, many persons are better equipped today.
Finally, her love for sports led her to start a Sports career; she is currently a Sports and Society Facilitator and an Accredited Sports Marketer.
Mrs Ronke pointed out that she got to know the depth of mediation through a senior learned colleague, an accredited mediator, Mrs Shola Adekpemire, who advised her and one other friend to pick up ADR as a career. Interestingly, that same year they approached Mrs Adeyinka Aroyewun the Director of LMDC, who immediately referred them to ongoing training by the Negotiation & Conflict Management Group International (NCMG International) in conjunction with the Bond University Australia. After the training, Mrs Ronke started mediating cases for the Citizens Mediation Centre (CMC) Lagos State Nigeria, and later started giving speeches at seminars, particularly in peer mediation.
She vividly remembered the venue of her first speech, which was at the Lagos State University (ADR session) on peer mediation. Within a few years, she was appointed by the Lagos Multi-Door Courthouse (LMDC) as a mediator to handle a variety of cases. Later on, she incorporated her own ADR firm with her partner’s help; they started handling ADR cases.
How do you plan your Mediation Session?
The parties determine what time they will want their session to hold. However, I introduce the participants, outline the mediation process and lay down ground rules to guide the process.
Which is simpler Mediation or Litigation?
Every case is unique, and it requires its own approach to find an efficient and favourable outcome. Mediation has its advantage and litigation has its advantage. However, without any bias, in modern times, people try to avoid litigation. It is time-consuming, unpredictable, expensive, and until a judge decides a case, parties can never be sure of the outcome.
Personally, I prefer Mediation because it is faster, more straightforward, and reduces the court’s dockets. It is imperative to point out that in Lagos State, almost all lawsuits are required to be mediated before going to the trial. However, not all cases can be mediated.
What is your advice for people that want to become a Mediator and for potential users?
Like any other career, one can make good living being a mediator. Every mediator’s joy is to settle the parties amicably – there is no greater feeling than the satisfaction that the mediator gets from helping people resolve their disputes.
In essence, everyone can be a mediator, there is good money in it, but they must be committed, have the passion, and have a listening ear; effective listening is the greatest weapon of a mediator.
Art Hinshaw, ADR as a First Career (Mediate.com 2014) <https://www.mediate.com/articles/HinshawAbl20140905.cfm> accessed 28th January 2021.