Mixed Method Mediation. Member Spotlight: Douglas Spoors

Doug has been a practicing attorney for 31 years specializing in plaintiff employment litigation as well as international negotiations and agreements. He stated, “After many years of litigating employment cases, my wife prompted me to look into mediation as an alternative.” Therefore, he pursued further training at the Loyola Law School in Los Angeles and Harvard University. For the past five years, he has mediated cases involving employment discrimination, EEO complaints, workplace disputes, hostile work environments, real state, landlord/tenant, family law, and consumer debt. These experiences combined have provided him with the breadth and depth of diverse mediation environments. He emphasized that he found mediation far more rewarding when the parties can achieve a win-win result rather than ‘fighting’ it out in court with no control over the outcome. He highlighted, “in litigation, the outcome is in the hands of the judge or jury. In mediation, the outcome is in the hands of the parties. Mediation is like the Colorado River with twists and turns along the way and obstacles above and below the surface. It takes on a fluid approach.” 

Institute for Mixed Methods Mediation

In 2017, he founded the Institute for Mixed Methods Mediation, which fosters the practice of a hybrid approach to conflict resolution, expounded from his book: Mixed Method Mediation: A Hybrid Approach to Conflict Resolution. The book came out of his mediation philosophy, which is divided into three parts. For Doug, a mixed-methods approach to mediation is key. He stated, in my model, the mediator acts as a coach, referee, and analyst. As a coach, the mediator helps the parties maneuver through areas of bias, positions, and interest, which provides a better understanding of different party perspectives.” Instead of conventional position-based bargaining, there is a greater chance to mediate. 

Secondly, as a referee, “the mediator maintains control over the process ensuring that the parties stay within the proscribed parameters of fair play.” Lastly, as an analyst, the mediator “tests the reality of various aspects of the parties’ understanding of what they might expect if there is no resolution.” He emphasized, “it is not about who is right or wrong, it is about problem-solving and finding meaningful solutions.” Further detailed explanation and breakdown of all these three areas can be found in the book, available at Amazon and Barnes & Noble.

ADR In Practice

Doug has been able to apply his mediation skills, passion, and philosophy into his current position as EEO Education and ADR Manager for the Navy Exchange Service Command at the Department of the Navy based in Virginia. “I really enjoy what I am doing there. Therefore, in the future, I hope to continue working in this context. Having a broad understanding of the law comes in handy.” Being able to work in an office environment where there is mutual respect and consciousness around the pandemic has provided him with a strong professional community. 

Doug has also served on the Board of Directors of the Southern California Mediation Association and on the Outreach Subcommittee of the Climate Change Project for MBBI, which has been an asset to his own practice. His involvement with the outreach subcommittee and the Climate Change Project of MBBI has prompted him to meet other mediators and engage in a platform that puts mediation at the center. He stated, The existence of an organization that can advance mediation around the world is phenomenal.” 

Although I believe we have turned a corner in bringing the pandemic to an end, I believe we should err on the side of caution.” Therefore, a work-life balance, especially when social activities are limited, is significant to one’s wellbeing and mediation practice. MBBI, among other channels, are ways to cultivate continuous learning and self-care. 

Upcoming Webinar! 

Listen to Douglas Spoors in the upcoming MBBI webinar: What the Creative Arts and Mediators can do in the area of Climate Change Conflict on June 23rd, 2021 at 12pm EDT (-4 UTC).

Article by Elizabeth Gamarra, MBBI Writer