The Weinstein International Fellowship program, launched in 2008, provides opportunities for individuals from outside the United States to visit the U.S. to learn more about dispute resolution processes and practices and to pursue a project of their own design that serves to advance the resolution of disputes in their home countries. This year, 13 fellows from across the world were granted fellowships and will come to the US as part of their fellowship to study ADR.
We asked each of the fellows some questions to learn more about their past experience and their future goals. Following is that exchange with our Bulgaria fellow, Evgeni Georgiev.
Tell us about yourself and what your fellowship is.
I’m from Bulgaria and sit on the Regional Court of Sofia. I was the first judge to implement mediation techniques in the courtroom, which led to the establishment of a court-connected settlement center, the first of its kind in Bulgaria. During my fellowship, I hope to learn more about court-annexed mediation programs and how they can help the mediation business to develop.
What inspired you to study ADR?
I began studying mediation in hopes of creating a new culture of dispute resolution in Bulgaria. Not only do I think it would help with the court backlogs in Sofia, but it can be an engine through which the Bulgarian Judiciary can be reformed. When I return to Bulgaria, I want to help other courts set up similar programs across the country.
What are your plans while you’re in the United States?
During my fellowship, I will study court-annexed mediation programs and the promotion of mediation in order to implement court-annexed mediation programs in Bulgaria. I also plan to observe various court-connected programs in Washington such as the multi-door courthouse at the Superior Court and other ADR/mediation court-annexed programs in Philadelphia, New York, and Boston.
Although an enormous amount of work has been done by mediators, judges, and court staff as ADR matures and evolves in Bulgaria, we still have a lot more to do. Part of my fellowship will focus on learning how to amend our rules; implement quality control mechanisms; attract new mediators and keep the interest of those we have; encourage judges to refer more cases to mediation; and start thinking how to share our experience with other courts.
Mr. Georgiev will be in Washington, D.C. until September and then will finish his time through October in Los Angeles and Santa Monica.
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