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Of the many contributions that Professor Leonard Riskin introduced in his landmark article Understanding Mediators’ Orientations, none is more profound than the educational value of the original Riskin Grid (the “Grid”) as a mental model to aid in understanding the mediation process. Describing a phenomenon through use of a simple model so that it can be systematically studied is a well-established and valuable scientific method. To be effective, however, good models must be calibrated to an appropriate level of sophistication for the student. The Grid is an effective model to help students new to mediation to conceptualize what mediators do and how they do it. Indeed, Riskin states that clarifying the mediation process is the Grid’s primary purpose. Along these lines, Riskin emphasizes one of the article’s primary aims is “to facilitate discussions and help to clarify arguments by providing a system for categorizing and understanding approaches to mediation.” Although some have criticized the Grid as being too simple, incomplete, and even misleading, it is the Grid’s simplicity that enables Riskin to illuminate the mediation process so brightly. Riskin himself, in a later article, attempted to address the Grid’s so-called weaknesses and limitations by suggesting a more dynamic Grid system (Riskin). The Grid persists magnificently as a fundamental model of understanding of what mediators do. It remains a central feature of mediation education because it is a clear and simple conceptual framework of the mediation process that a mediation novice, whether a law student, an attorney, or a professional interested in mediation from any number of other disciplines, can understand. The Grid endures, in other words, not because it is perfect, but because it is “true enough.”….
Art Hinshaw, Andrea Kupfer Schneider, Sarah Rudolph Cole
Oxford University Press
Oxford ; New York
Colatrella, Michael T., "“True enough”" (2021). McGeorge School of Law Scholarly Books. 61.