With an aim to be that one person who can assist people in resolving their conflicts and disputes, I joined the legal profession. In the earlier days, as a young lawyer, I spent my time in and around the court premises with my fellow lawyer friends and senior lawyers to understand the judicial structure while trying best to practice law. But there always remained a gap between my real aim and actual daily practice.
During my legal internship, in one of the cases, I was introduced to the mediation process, which inspired me to start researching more about the Alternate Dispute Resolution.
When I proceeded to pursue a Master’s program in Arbitration and Dispute Resolution, besides travelling to a foreign country, my interest was to understand the techniques and models of the Alternate Dispute Resolution. Yes, I attained the Masters. I did earn a Master’s degree and learnt the techniques, models, procedures and laws of Arbitration, Mediation and Negotiation. But then, Now what? How would I start walking in this ADR pathway I was dreaming about? The first easy way was to speak to your professors. A stroke of luck! Two of my professors willing agreed to be my mentors. Sala Sihombing and Iu Ting Kwok who is famously known as TK.
Sala allowed me to be the ‘fly on the wall’ during her mediation sessions. And, TK assigned me to draft Mediation Role-Plays. In addition, Mr Ng Man Kin of Kwok Ng, & Chan – Solicitors & Notaries allowed me to intern at his law firm. Mr Ng encouraged me to join and observe the legal cases which were at the mediation stage.
There came a question, as to how would I even learn anything about mediation attending the mediation sessions in Hong Kong which majorly took place in Cantonese!? Another stroke of Luck. Mr Ng is such a gem, one of those humble and kind seniors I have ever met. He enthusiastically encouraged me to attend the mediation sessions with one thing in mind ‘people are the same’. He takes additional efforts to translate the communication happening in the mediation session and the debriefings further give me more insights on how one can deal with people problems.
Here I learnt another valuable lesson, language is one part of the process. It is more about understanding people, their culture, beliefs and behaviors. Not knowing a language can never be a barrier. Believe that there are opportunities, and you will receive them! The very concept of Law of Attraction proved right again. In my four weeks of internship, I have had an opportunity to attend six mediation sessions and a seven-member jury trial at the High Court. I am happy and feel lucky to be here among these wonderful mentors.
There is something more precious than Money. Relations. People. Like said by TK, there are real cases where one helps without reasons or better say, without expectation of reciprocity. As I come from different region and country, I confess that I did fear my ability to be able to maintain the balance between the professional ethics, language and customs in this multi-cultural work environment. But, I must say, I feel blessed with amazing mentors who have accepted me the way I am. It is indeed very important for one to accept the other as they are. This feeling of acceptance gives the additional layer of confidence. I thank (my Shifus) Sala Sihombing, Iu Ting Kwok and Ng Man Kin, to have taught and to continue teaching me such valuable lessons.
I encourage my fellow young mediators and dispute resolving professionals to acknowledge that we do have Opportunities more than Challenges. Also encouraging senior mediators and senior alternate dispute resolution professionals to take a step ahead and help professionals young in experience, because besides the theory knowledge it is you, seniors, we juniors look up to learn the practicalities of the subjects.
In the end, I bring to the audience the Mediator’s Prayer, written by Iu Ting Kwok, TK. I insist every prospective young mediator, as well as senior mediators, have a read and support in promoting mediation culture in and around your surroundings.
A Mediator’s Prayer
Disputants, make me the instrument of your negotiation,
Where there is conflict, let me mediate;
Where there is difference, mediate;
Where there is contradiction, mediate;
Where there is discord, mediate;
Where there is litigation, mediate;
As a mediator, I assist to reframe rather than to repeat,
To communicate rather than to adjudicate,
To facilitate rather than to evaluate,
To summarize rather than to advise,
To generate options rather than to provide solutions,
To reality-test rather than to protest.
It is in letting go that we move on;
It is in wearing the shoes of your foe that we empathize;
It is in accommodating our adversary that we satisfy our own claims;
It is in striving for a settlement that we find peace.