Until recently, the concept of mediation was almost unheard of, and people saw costly court action as the only way to decide on a dispute. But now law students are beginning to see mediation as a required part of their training and mid-career professionals see it as a new skill that could provide a career change. Regina Yeung Sum-yu is studying part-time for a law degree and has also enrolled in a mediation course at the HKU school of professional and continuing education (SPACE). Ms Yeung, who works in hotel investment, said she first heard about mediation through a friend who was already an accredited mediator. 'Then I went to do my own research and I could see that while Hong Kong was still lagging behind, this would be a growing market,' she said. Ms Yeung also has personal experience of the disadvantages of litigation as her company was embroiled in a dispute for six years. 'After that, I can see all the benefits of mediation, in terms of time and money and for privacy reasons,' she said, adding that she was already advising her company to seek mediation as a way of erasing misunderstandings and resolving disputes quicker. For Vincent Au-yeung, who has been taking a course at the Mediation Centre, mediation offers a career change or at least career development. Mr Au is a police officer and said he might become a full-time mediator because of the increasing demand for such professionals. 'But even if I don't change careers, the skills are applicable for work in law enforcement,' he said. 'Often cases do not require direct action but just mediation between the parties.' Associate head of the college of humanities and law at HKU SPACE, Leung Kong-yui, said people who took its courses came from a variety of backgrounds, including the legal profession, engineering and property management, as well as senior government officials.