From the moment I first heard of mediation, in the fall of 1988, I knew it was what I had to do for the rest of my life. Since that time, I have mediated approaching 5000 matters and have spoken on mediation on five continents. It's in my blood. So when I was approached with the idea of sponsoring a law school competition where the students would be judged in their role as mediators, instead of as advocates in the mediation process, I jumped right in.
I have judged and coached a number of advocacy-in-mediation competitions over the years. Such competitions are an important part of the law school experience, giving students vital training in representing clients in mediation, which is a task they may find themselves engaged in not long after becoming lawyers. However, I had long been surprised by the dearth of opportunities for law students to exercise their skills as mediators in competition, because law students of today will become the mediators of tomorrow. It is for this reason -- and with pride -- that I sponsor the Jeffry S. Abrams National Mediator Competition. The competition provides critical training and experience for our future mediators, who will be the next stewards and disseminators of the invaluable mediation process locally, nationally and internationally.