Kate Aubrey-Johnson with Helen Curtis (LAG, 2012)
As someone who has recently trained as a family mediator I was keen to review this handbook. It contains a wealth of useful explanatory material about mediation in general, and about the way that mediation operates in particular areas such as community mediation, family mediation and workplace mediation.
The material is well presented and easy to understand, and the FAQs from established practitioners were helpful. I thought it odd though that several of the case studies set out a scenario and then explained that mediation had helped the parties to agree an outcome, without setting out what that outcome was. The sections on family mediation were well set out and clear and so apparently were the other subject specific sections.
For most readers though, I thought that in fact the coverage was likely to be a bit too rangy – I found myself skipping chunks of the book which were either teaching me to suck eggs, or covering areas which were not useful to my practice, notwithstanding an interest in other types of mediation. Whilst much of the material is apparently aimed at non-mediators, a large portion of the material appears to be aimed at mediators themselves or the legal advisors of the parties to mediation, for whom the more basic sections on what is mediation and why mediate are (one might hope) rather less necessary. So, to my mind, this is a book from which different people will pick and choose the chapters that interest or inform them, although few will benefit from every chapter.
However, as an introduction to the principles and benefits of mediation I would say this book would be invaluable, particularly for those who are likely to encounter one or more types of mediation tangentially in their everyday work – I thought for example that a copy should be on the bookshelf of every District Judge and every CAFCASS Office, every Local Authority legal department and every legal outfit be it chambers or solicitors firm. There is much that is poorly understood about mediation and this book really does help to clarify the boundaries and limitations of mediation as well as its potential strengths and flexibility.
I think that this is a useful reference text to call upon as needed, but not one which is best suited to a cover to cover read.