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October 14, 2020

ABA plans Mediation Week with series of virtual programs highlighting access to justice

WASHINGTON, Oct. 14, 2020 — ABA Mediation Week, an annual event that celebrates the growth of mediation as a dispute resolution process, begins Monday, Oct. 19, with a week of virtual programming emphasizing the impact of COVID-19 on access to justice as well as diversity and inclusion in the mediation arena. 

Access to Justice - The Role of Mediation”
Sponsored by the ABA Section of Dispute Resolution

Monday, Oct. 19 through Friday, Oct. 23


Advocates of mediation say the process saves time and money and is less of a drain on emotional resources compared to litigation. With courtroom access curtailed and delays in civil cases in the post-pandemic world, mediation has emerged as an important tool in providing access to justice for various parties.

The schedule includes (all times ET):

  • Monday, Oct. 19, noon: “In the Midst of Every Crisis… Setting Anti-Bias Standards for Mediators” — With the resumption of in-person court appearances, attorneys and litigants who are trying to decide whether to choose a jury must weigh the socioeconomic consequences of the digital divide and increased susceptibility to COVID-19 or moving forward with mediation. The session explores how diversity is the key strategy for ensuring the constitutionally protected right for litigants to have a jury of their peers.

  • Tuesday, Oct. 20, noon: “How Mediators Can Increase Access for Victims” — Domestic violence advocates have historically discouraged the use of mediation to resolve issues in couples experiencing domestic violence. But, through online dispute resolution and other protections, mediation can expand justice to victims. This program examines this emerging option.
  • Tuesday, Oct. 20, 3 p.m.: “Can Mediators Fill the Void Created By COVID-19 Immunity Laws?” — States across the country have implemented COVID-19 immunity laws designed to protect healthcare facilities and providers from civil liability related to the spread of COVID-19. This session will examine whether the new laws provide fair and sufficient protections to both patients and providers, and how mediators can fill the void created by these laws.
  • Wednesday, Oct. 21, noon: “Resolution 105 Roundtable” — The panel will review the implementation and progress of ABA Resolution 105, the ABA policy that encourages diversity in alternative dispute resolution. Panelists will offer different perspectives on what diversity looks like, and how dispute resolvers can work together and individually to advance the mission of equitable inclusivity.
  • Wednesday, Oct. 21, 3 p.m.: “Offering a Lifeline to Parents Through Mediation During the Pandemic” — This panel will identify the physical as well as psychological barriers that parents face in resolving their custody and parenting disputes — now and in the future.  The panel will also highlight how mediation can be a valuable option for parents to use when resolving their disputes and provide tips to help practitioners make the mediation experience useful and impactful in the virtual world.
  • Thursday, Oct. 22, noon: “Accessing Justice through Mediation” — A vast civil justice gap exists between the number of people who need civil legal assistance and the few who receive it. A lack of access to justice can be devastating, especially for low-income individuals who cannot afford representation and have limited language proficiency. Presenters address the issue and cite cases and stories to demonstrate how mediation is breaching the civil justice gap and providing access to justice.
  • Thursday, Oct. 22, 3 p.m.: “Mask Off 3” — This session, billed as a Revelations and Solutions Roundtable Discussion, is intended to spotlight disparities in the black community in areas of health, education, housing, legal/judicial, employment and law enforcement.
  • Friday, Oct. 23, noon: “Does Technology Always Improve Mediation and Access to Justice?” — Technology can improve many aspects of our lives. But does greater reliance on technology always improve mediation and access to justice? The session will discuss ways in which technology can improve our mediation and justice processes, identify dangers and shortcomings with certain technologies, and explain how those dangers can be minimized.

Media are invited to attend any or all the sessions but must be registered in advance. Please email [email protected] if interested in attending.

The ABA is the largest voluntary association of lawyers in the world. As the national voice of the legal profession, the ABA works to improve the administration of justice, promotes programs that assist lawyers and judges in their work, accredits law schools, provides continuing legal education, and works to build public understanding around the world of the importance of the rule of law. View our privacy statement online. Follow the latest ABA news at and on Twitter @ABANews