Many people ask me what I do as a mediator and why I became a mediator after working as a lawyer. Once, at the conclusion of a court referred case that ended well, the defendant told me she could never be a mediator and wondered why I enjoyed conflict resolution. Others want to know how the mediation process works. And recently, I was asked: how do I find the right mediator? Here is what I advise:
1. Find a mediator who has these qualities, among others:
• Good listening and communication skills
• Focus and concentration
• Empathy and compassion
• Ability to maintain neutrality
• Patience and perseverence
• Ability to establish rapport and gain trust
2. Make sure your mediator complies with state certification requirements
Some states such as Virginia require that mediators participate in classroom training, co-mediate cases with a mediator mentor, and then mediate cases on their own while they are observed and critiqued by a mentor. Mentors evaluate mediators in training who then apply for state certification. Mediators need to be initially certified by the Virginia Supreme Court to mediate court referred cases and re-certified every two years after proving that they have completed a number of credits of continuing mediator education and mediated a certain number of cases per two year term.
3. Interview several mediators
Ask: What is your mediation style -- facilitative, evaluative, transformative? How much experience do you have? How many cases have you mediated? What type of training did you complete? Do you participate in continuing mediator education? What is your educational and professional background? What type of cases do you handle? How do your written agreements reflect the decisions made in mediation? How do you typically work with your clients? What do you charge for professional services?
4. Is the mediator committed to the field of mediation and involved in the mediation community?
Or is the mediator you find also committed to practicing law and litigating?
5. How does the mediator problem solve and trouble shoot?
Does the mediator use a clear and practical approach in helping to find solutions to identified issues? Does the mediator empower the parties to work collaboratively to resolve the identified problems? Does the mediator validate feelings when emotions are running high or ignore them? Is the mediator committed to doing what is in the best interest of all parties?
My friend is going through a divorce, and she thinks it would be a good idea to have a mediator. She is so stressed with so many other different things, so I told her I would do the research to try and find a good one. I like how you point out that it is a good idea to interview several mediators to find out what their style is so she can pick one that she feels will work best with her.
9/27/2017 06:21:50 pm
I'm glad that my blog post on Five Tips For Choosing The Right Mediator was helpful! Am happy to talk with your friend too.
9/27/2017 05:52:12 pm
I liked that you had mentioned that it can be important to run through interviews with several mediators before deciding on one to make sure that they can meet all of your needs. My family has recently run into a situation where we might require some mediation and we're not really sure how to handle that. Although, I do know that once we start looking for a mediator, we'll be interviewing multiple to make sure that we can have our issue resolved correctly.
9/27/2017 06:23:21 pm
I'm happy that my blog post on this subject was of benefit. Am happy to speak with you about your family's issues as well.
11/8/2017 01:36:43 am
One of my close friend is facing family issues, I suggest her to get help from a mediator. Now, I'd like to recommend her, find a mediator who has good listening & communication skills qualities. During your search that select a mediator who remain neutral and treat both parties with equal fairness and respect. Thanks for the blog!
11/8/2017 04:33:37 am
I am glad that this blog post was helpful!
3/23/2018 02:46:53 pm
I agree that you want to make sure that a mediation service has the right state certification. It would be good to consider this because it would ensure that they are qualified. My husband and I are looking for a mediation service to help mediate our divorce, so we'll have to consider their certifications first.
10/15/2018 12:55:52 pm
My husband and I are planning to get divorced and we want to make the process as smooth and easy as possible, so we are thinking about hiring a third-party mediator. You make a great point that you should interview different potential mediators because this will help us to find someone who we can trust and who has good communication skills. Also, I will make sure to ask them how many successful mediation cases they have handled in the past because this will give me an idea of their experience.
10/17/2018 05:59:12 pm
So glad that this blog post was helpful!
2/23/2019 12:00:10 pm
You've got good advice for choosing a mediator. I like how you said that they need to be compassionate and able to empathize with you. My brother is about to get a divorce, but I know he wants to keep it civil. I'll tell him to find a mediator like this to help him through it.
7/2/2019 07:43:55 am
My favorite part of this article is when you mention the importance of interviewing several divorce mediators before choosing one. My friend is just starting the divorce process and I think it is important for her to find a mediator who she can trust. Interviewing will be a great way for her to get to know them and make sure she feels comfortable working with them.
9/6/2019 02:05:11 pm
Thank you for providing a list of questions that you could interview mediators with. I especially liked the one that asked if the mediator continued their education. My cousin is getting divorced and he needs a mediator to help him through it all. I will pass on this list of questions to my cousin so he can find a quality mediator.
5/22/2020 09:58:21 am
It was really helpful when you said that they should have good communication and listening skills. My husband and I just recently decided that we want to get a divorce, and we both decided that we want to see a mediator so that we can save stress from the whole process. We'll make sure to keep this information in mind as we search for a mediator for our divorce.
12/28/2020 03:24:19 pm
Ellice, thank you for all of your information on choosing the best mediator. My best friend is going through a divorce right now and is hoping to find a reputable mediator for their case. I like how you mentioned that it is smart to interview multiple mediators before you decide on one, and I will be sure to pass this information along to my friend.
3/22/2021 02:02:06 am
You made a good point when you shared that it is great to ask about the experience that the divorce mediator has before hiring him. My friend just mentioned the other day that she is concerned about her marriage since she has been having issues with her husband for almost a month now. I will suggest to her looking for a reliable online divorce mediator who is experienced to help with their situation.
3/23/2021 01:31:07 pm
After several years of trying to work things out with his wife, my brother has finally decided to get a divorce. They have had a lot of domestic problems, such as fighting and cheating. He wants to start by trying to find a more peaceful separation, so he's looking for a divorce mediator. I'll let him know that it's a good idea to talk to potential divorce mediators about their style and methods to figure out which one can help with his situation.
4/15/2021 01:32:24 pm
I do agree that when looking for a mediator, it is important for us to choose someone who listens well and is empathatic. It makes sense as in doing so, we can ensure that the mediator we hire is reliable. I will definitely keep this information in mind when I look for a mediator.
9/2/2021 09:52:24 pm
I am grateful that this post underlined that when looking for a divorce mediator, it is important that we consider their experience. I understand that a divorce is a delicate subject, therefore it is important to handle it with empathy. Since I am looking to get a divorce, I will definitely look for someone known to be empathy to be the mediator.
8/23/2022 02:38:36 pm
My cousin has some issues about her divorce but doesn't want to hire a lawyer to sue her husband or anything, so she's looking for an alternative. That's why I think your advice about interviewing a few mediators could help her find the answer to her problem. Thanks for the information on hiring a mediator that's right for your situation.
11/21/2022 08:40:02 am
I can see how hiring a mediator that can effectively communicate what you want and need to the other party can make it easier to finish a divorce. My brother talked about how he's thinking about ending his marriage after 5 years. I believe this information can help him achieve a peaceful separation from his partner.
3/20/2023 06:42:46 pm
I like that you said that implementing appropriate interviews could help gather information about the best service provider. A couple of days ago, my cousin informed me he plans to continue his career being a family mediator to help families to have a better relationships with each other. He asked if I had any idea what would be the best option for quality education. Thanks to this helpful article, I'll tell him it will be much better if they consult a trusted family mediation certification training as they can help with advice and the legal process.
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Ellice Halpern, J.D., is a Virginia Supreme Court certified general and family mediator.