“Mediation Pioneer Linda Singer.” That is Carl Stern’s apt description of the Washington, D.C., attorney who may well be the “George Washington” of the practice of mediation.  In Linda Singer’s oral history – taken in connection with the ABA’s Women Trailblazers Project – she describes how, decades ago, she first applied the idea of mediation to grievances of prisoners about the conditions of their confinement. Over the years, mediation procedures have evolved to cover a wide range of civil disputes – everything from employment lawsuits to domestic disputes to civil rights controversies to commercial claims.

Indeed, in some jurisdictions, mediation has even become a mandatory part of the litigation process. Singer’s various reflections on mediation – on its growth and importance; its usefulness both to litigants and to an overburdened court system; its rewards and challenges from the perspective of a mediator like herself; and the skills needed to help people bridge their differences – are ably summarized here by Carl Stern.