As there is not set professional certificate that signifies that a mediator has gone through appropriate training, one must rely on professional associations to determine a mediator’s level of skill. Professional associations maintain standards that they require for their members to have achieved as well as a code of conduct. These protections ensure that the mediation services provider is reliable and ethical. The failure to ascertain if the service provider has had adequate training may lead to breaches of confidentiality or the code of conduct expected of a mediator.
Where can one find mediation services?
The aforementioned professional organizations maintain a director of mediators that should be searchable by location. One can usually trust these directories so long as the professional organization is reputable. Being listed in these directories is one of the benefits mediation services pay membership fees and conform to standards of conduct as prescribed by the professional organization. Search engines and local directories can also lead you to local mediation services where you will be able to vet their credentials before committing to use their service.
What is the role of mediation services?
Mediation services should not be used in lieu of legal counsel. The mediator may have object and working knowledge of the field where the dispute occurs, but lawyers are necessary to ensure that the agreement reached conforms to legal restrictions placed by the jurisdiction before it is notarized. Mediators will play whatever role the two clients agree upon prior to the start of mediation. While the mediator has no authority to enforce a settlement, he is responsible for the flow of communication between two parties and maintaining an environment conducive to reaching an agreement.
There remains a debate within the mediation services community as to how active of a role a mediator should play. For now, it is at the discretion of the parties to determine the extent that the mediator becomes involved in the negotiations. Clearly, if the mediator was to start dispensing advice to either party, that would threaten the assumption of neutrality, placing the integrity of the mediation in question.
What should I do after seeking mediation services?
Although you will discuss and defend your point of view during the mediation, it is important to prepare and organize your case, meeting with the mediator if necessary, to properly prepare for mediation. The mediator will brief you on the structure of the proceedings and what will be expected of the party during the proceedings. Being prepared will clarify your conditions for reaching an agreement, which will in turn help the mediator clearly communicate your needs to the other party.