Windsor Yearbook of Access to Justice
Professor Voyvodic’s call for cultural competence as an ethical requirement challenges perceptions of the legal profession as inherently and necessarily morally neutral. While lawyers wrestle with the boundaries of ethical mandates, alternative dispute resolution practitioners have adopted their own codes of ethics following very much in the path of the law. Although expanding dispute resolution options for disputants, many theorists have warned of the potential of informalism to undermine natural justice principals. I will argue that the choice to omit any explicit commitment to a "social justice ethic" leaves the practice of ADR vulnerable to these decades-old arguments that informalism erodes protections for marginalized populations. As such, I will argue that mediators must call for an explicit social justice mandate in their codes of conduct, training and practices to cement the place of informal processes as equitable – not just efficient – options for settlement. In doing so, informal processes, particularly mediation, may increase discourse in civil society about human rights, thus strengthening their congruence with lived realities of citizens.
Smyth, Gemma E.. (2011). Strengthening Social Justice in Informal Dispute Resolution Processes Through Cultural Competence. Windsor Yearbook of Access to Justice, 27 (1), 111-126.