Talking About Mediation with the Young Global Ambassadors – Cezary Rogula

Young Global Ambassadors Programme


Interviewee: Cezary Rogula, Accredited Mediator and Attorney at law (Adwokat), Krakow, Poland

 Interviewer: Ziga Perovic, Young Global Ambassador (Slovenia)

The 2016 CDRC Vienna once again proved that bringing students and professionals from all over the world together provides an advantage for everyone involved. In this regard, Young Global Ambassador Programme (“YGAP”) is trying to bring international mediation experts even closer to past and future participants at CDRC.

In this edition, Cezary Rogula, accredited mediator and attorney at law (adwokat), practicing law and doing mediation at his office in Krakow, Poland shares with us some of his views and experiences. Cezary held many roles at various competitions, from assistant to the coach and observer to volunteer, mediation session supervisor and professional. As a PhD candidate and practicing lawyer, he gives a unique view of the competition and encourages everyone to take part.

YGAP: Tell us a little about yourself.

CR:       First of all, thank you very much for giving me the opportunity to talk with you. I am a Polish who has spent most of my life in Poland, with few stops in the US and Belgium. I live in Krakow, another beautiful city which, in European terms, is within driving distance from Vienna, the place of CDRC. In my everyday life I am doing my best to combine three areas – practicing law as an attorney at law, admitted to the Polish Bar, practicing mediation as legal representative, mediator and trainer, and being an academic – a joint Ph.D. candidate at my home Jagiellonian University in Krakow and the University of Antwerp, Belgium. Perhaps that’s enough about me and please let me tell you what I perceive as the most rewarding thing in practicing mediation. I am thrilled when I have the unique opportunity to observe the change of mind-set of the people who are faced with trying or learning about mediation for the first time. It is quite similar for anyone I may have contact with – clients, lawyers, students, trainees. It is very gratifying when you have the possibility to convince that being litigation-oriented towards your opponent is destructive and that there is another way, that there is something more than just legal component of the dispute and sometimes legal rules have the least importance, etc. I think that is one good reason for anyone who, so to say, works on disputes and conflicts, to give mediation a try.


YGAP: How did you get involved with the CDRC Vienna?

CR:       I am a fan of mediation competitions. As a matter of fact, that is how I learned about mediation in the first place – it was 2008 when I was selected for the Jagiellonian University Team for the ICC International Commercial Mediation Competition in Paris, the first Polish team ever participating in this project. Back then, I was sure my thing was IP law. I knew mediation existed, but that was pretty much all I could say about it. In that sense, the ICC Competition was a life-changing event for me. After seeing it in Paris and coming back with the third place award, I already knew that I couldn’t imagine my life without mediation itself and mediation competitions. I tend to say during these competitions: once you get there, you really want to come back. And that’s how my mediation and mediation competitions journey began. I went through all the stages – from assistant of the Coach of the future teams, through Competition observer, volunteer, mediation session supervisor, to professional. At the same time, I attended various trainings and conferences to keep on developing my mediation skills, enriching my practical experience and finally I became an accredited mediator with my own mediation practice.    

            For two years, I was also one of the coaches of the Jagiellonian University Team of the Vis Moot Competition and I went with them to Vienna, so I also have a clear idea what the Vis Moot is about. And it was the 2014 edition of the Paris competition when I heard some rumours about a new mediation competition that would be based on the Vis Moot. About half a year later, my former student, who was at the time working with Professor Pitkowitz in Vienna dropped me an email with information about the newly created CDRC. I applied shortly afterwards, truly hoping that I will be able to attend this event. I was thrilled when I was accepted.


YGAP: What stimulated you to come to CDRC Vienna 2016?

CR:       There were two driving forces behind that. First – similar to the ICC Competition, I couldn’t have imagined the next year without CDRC Vienna. I enjoyed every moment of the 2015 edition. Secondly, I was invited to be a member of the Case Working Group for the CDRC 2016. This was a very enriching experience and I really wanted to see how the students would bring things we wrote into life. For some of my training programs, I write my own cases and I am always surprised with the creativity that trainees show while working on them. Their ideas sometimes make me wonder – how could they come up with such a creative solution only from the few sentences I gave them. And I knew CDRC 2016 would be a million times better than that – just imagine: multitude impact of seven members of the Working Group by all participants of the Competition! I couldn’t have missed it and it went even beyond my expectations. Now I am very cheerful that I was given once more the opportunity to work on the case for the 2017 edition of CDRC. Let the adventure begin again!


YGAP:  Do you think that CDRC Vienna is contributing in popularizing, creating credibility and acceptance of mediation as a tool for dispute resolution?

CR:       Definitely. I am glad you framed it in a way that mediation is a tool for dispute resolution. My personal belief is that the aim of competition like CDRC should not only be to create professionals exclusively devoted to mediation. Neither should it try to impose a mantra that mediation is superior to anything else. It is rather to make us all aware that mediation should be in our toolbox of possible ways of resolving disputes and it is an essential step to consider when you, together with your client, are facing a dispute. For various reasons there may be instances when you will not choose mediation as your best option, or you will not include mediation clause in a contract you are negotiating for your client. Nonetheless, as long as you are aware that your analysis would not be full if you didn’t consider use of mediation, that is exactly the point of your involvement in CDRC. In other words, you should always be able to explain to your client why you did not choose mediation for his or her case. If you cannot do it, your job is not done in a proper way.    

            In that manner, CDRC does a brilliant job – it lets you try mediation at a very early stage – before you enter into practice, without professional liability. It is natural that people are reluctant to what they have not experienced before. And because of confidentiality of mediation, it is rather hard to observe real life mediations. CDRC fills that gap and delivers that opportunity, both for mediators-to-be and party representatives. And if you add to that the international dimension of the Competition – is there any better way of popularizing mediation?

            Last but not least, CDRC is a unique event that enables all participants (including Experts) to bring their skills into next level. In that way, it not only enlarges the international mediation community, but also develops it in the best possible way.


YGAP:  Have you come across any notable developments about the competition in comparison to the 2015 edition?

CR:       I really liked the 2016 CDRC case. Just joking. What I have found really good about the 2016 Competition is that although the Competition expanded with more competing teams, it did not lose the very close atmosphere among the participants. You could find time to get to know and have a talk with everyone. That is what I particularly liked in the 2015 edition and I am glad it stayed that way.


YGAP: How do you feel about the level of the student-negotiators and -mediators in this edition?

CR:       Not only the level itself amazed me, but also the fact they were not afraid to show their personalities. Please don’t get me wrong, but it would not be so enjoyable to observe all students acting in the same way, according to some guidelines they read in a book or advice given by their coaches. On the contrary, during CDRC we could all meet one-of-the-kind Settlementlovers, Friedrensreichs, Cautios (names used in the CDRC 2016 Case) and their respective counsels. The students truly used the flexibility of mediation and adjusted it to the needs of their dispute and to themselves. If they already know how to do it at this stage, their future is nothing but bright.


YGAP:  Do you have any suggestions, tips or advice for our young negotiators and mediators in the making?

CR:       First – apply for the CDRC! Once you get there, please use every moment of it – talk to as many people as you can, exchange your ideas and learn from each other. An important message I would like to convey on that point is that the difficulty of learning how to use mediation is that there are no absolute rules. Most of what you can read or hear are just guidelines that might not work in every possible situation. And it is similar to what you hear from your experts during the Competition. Please bear in mind that although the scoring criteria are objective, the comments you hear are always tinted with personal feelings of the evaluators. To my mind, that is the jewel in the crown – CDRC allows you to hear opinions of experts from different backgrounds, professions, jurisdictions, nationalities and so on. On top of that, you talk with many others outside of the mediation sessions attended. Have these hints and guidelines noted down somewhere, read them from time to time, take what you think may work best for you and this combination will be a milestone in creating your own, individual, exclusive mediation practice.


YGAP: Would you like to make any additional comments to our readers?

CR:       My previous answer could be summarised as: if you want to be negotiators or mediators in the future, you should attend the CDRC.

Stay tuned for more from Cezary, his list of “Please don’t be afraid…” (hints that he frequently gives to students)!


published April 23, 2017