Rola Mustafa began her career as a lawyer, but quickly recognized the value of addressing conflicts in a non-adversarial way. Her passion for alternative dispute resolution led her to pursue accreditation in mediation from multiple organizations. She also became a certified global trainer and has coached dozens of mediators in both Canada and Syria.
We spoke with Rola this week to learn more about her background and what prospective ADR students should know. Read on for the highlights.
Q. Can you tell us about your education and professional background?
Rola: I have a bachelor’s degree in law from Syria. I trained as a lawyer and during my training period I went to the UK and did an LLM in international commercial law, which included studying arbitration and mediation.
I also completed training through the Centre for Effective Dispute Resolution, which is based in the UK. I did mediation training and became a certified trainer in the field of mediation and conciliation. I’ve delivered training courses in Syria and in Canada as well.
I hold mediation accreditations from several different organizations, including the ADR Institute of Canada, the ADR Institute of Ontario, Family Mediation Canada, and the Family Dispute Resolution Institute of Ontario.
I also hold a global MBA from IE Business School in Spain and a certificate in intercultural communication from the University of British Columbia. In addition, I am a Workplace Fairness Analyst at Workplace Fairness International.
Q. What inspired you to go into the ADR field?
Rola: I developed an interest in mediation when I was studying law. I volunteered for the Ismaili Conciliation and Arbitration Board in Syria, where I witnessed the value of mediation in resolving disputes without resorting to court litigation. I was drawn to the idea of maintaining relationships and saving costs.
That experience ignited my passion for alternative dispute resolution. Since then, I have been actively volunteering with various community organizations to promote mediation and other forms of ADR.
In the current polarizing environment that we live in, people are easily turning against each other. Mediation or any type of alternative dispute resolution is a way to bridge differences and understand each other. I strongly believe that ADR cultivates harmony and peace within communities by nurturing mutual understanding and respect among disputing parties.
Q. Who would benefit from this type of training?
Rola: ADR training can benefit various individuals and groups.
Lawyers, judges, and other legal professionals can benefit from mediation training as it provides them with ADR skills that complement traditional litigation processes. Training in ADR enhances their ability to advocate for their clients' interests and navigate negotiations more effectively.
Through my work with Ontario courts, I’ve found that many lawyers are more interested in becoming mediators because they can resolve conflicts faster than they would through court.
Also, employers and HR professionals can benefit from mediation training as it equips them with conflict resolution skills to manage workplace disputes and foster a positive organizational culture.
Similarly, community leaders, social workers, and activists can develop skills to address conflicts and promote peaceful resolution within communities.
Training in mediation empowers individuals to facilitate dialogue, build consensus, and address underlying issues that contribute to conflict.
Q. Why would you say ADR in general is in such high demand right now?
Rola: There is increasing awareness and acceptance of ADR's benefits among individuals, businesses, legal professionals, and policymakers, leading to its growing integration into legal systems worldwide.
ADR methods such as mediation and arbitration offer several advantages over traditional litigation. They reduce legal fees and court costs and save time. They also provide greater flexibility and control, allowing parties to tailor solutions to their specific needs and maintain confidentiality.
Additionally, ADR focuses on preserving relationships between parties, which is beneficial in ongoing or future business relationships, family disputes (especially when parties have kids), and community conflicts. With court systems experiencing backlogs and delays, ADR relieves pressure on the courts and allows them to prioritize more complex cases.
Q. What are some of the core skills and characteristics that you need to be a successful mediator?
Rola: Communication skills are extremely important for a mediator. They enable effective dialogue between parties, active listening to their concerns, and clear, impartial conveyance of information.
Additionally, remaining focused is crucial, as parties may express intense emotions and share numerous stories. It's essential to stay attentive and help parties concentrate on pertinent matters, which can be challenging.
Empathy plays a vital role as well, allowing mediators to understand and empathize with different perspectives.
Furthermore, patience and diplomacy are essential qualities in navigating complex, emotionally charged situations during mediation. They help the mediator maintain composure, manage conflicts, and guide parties toward constructive dialogue.
Q. What have you found most rewarding about working in mediation?
Rola: What I find most rewarding about working in mediation is the opportunity to facilitate constructive dialogue and witness the transformation of conflict into resolution. Being able to guide parties toward understanding, empathy, and ultimately finding mutually beneficial solutions brings a sense of fulfilment.
Witnessing the relief and satisfaction on the faces of individuals as they reach agreements and move forward positively is incredibly gratifying. Additionally, knowing that mediation contributes to building stronger relationships, fostering harmony, and promoting peace within communities adds to the sense of fulfilment in this work.
Q. If someone was considering mediation training, what should they know up front?
Rola: The interpersonal skills cultivated through mediation training offer invaluable benefits in various aspects of life. Mediators assist parties in uncovering their underlying needs, which may not always be apparent at first. While parties may know what they want, they may not fully grasp the root cause driving the conflict.
Through role plays and practical exercises during training, you will learn techniques to identify these underlying needs effectively. This newfound insight can also be applied retrospectively to your own personal life, allowing you to revisit past conflicts and recognize the underlying interests or needs that were previously unrecognized by you.
LEARN MORE ABOUT MEDIATION AND ARBITRATION TRAINING AT KOMPASS
Kompass Professional Development offers a variety of online certificate programs for students interested in alternative dispute resolution. Each certificate is 10 to 12 weeks long and includes live role plays and mock mediation or arbitration sessions.
Click below for further details.