There’s no doubt that mediation is often the best way to resolve legal disputes, particularly disputes in which it is important to maintain a relationship with the other party such as employment disputes, family disputes or child custody and co-parenting arrangements. But with the wrong mediator facilitating the discussion, relationships could become even more strained than before, and a successful resolution might not be found. These situations almost always end in litigation, which is the very thing the parties in dispute attempted to avoid in the first place.
So how do you know how to choose the best mediator for the task? The first rule of thumb is to look for a mediator with extensive experience as an advocate in the field in which mediation is sought. This means that if your dispute is in labor and employment, finding a mediator with extensive experience in that area will make a significant difference in the outcome of the mediation proceedings. A mediator with experience in the area of your dispute means that he or she will be able to inform you of what a judge would likely rule if you took the case to court. This knowledge and background information is an important piece of the puzzle to successful dispute resolution because it allows all parties involved to have a more realistic view of the situation and come closer to a compromise in the process.
The second most important trait to look for in a mediator is integrity. While this trait might be harder to recognize than experience, integrity will usually show itself in a mediator’s activities and interests outside of the office. Does he or she give back to the community? Do others speak highly of him or her? Finding a mediator with integrity means that your dispute will be handled with integrity—something that will be important to ensure fairness for everyone involved.
The third most important traits to look for in a mediator are creativity and innovation. With creativity and innovation, a mediator can help clients look for solutions to their problems that are “out of the box”—something that could be valuable to the process, particularly if the parties reach a stalemate.
Finally, it is important to look for a mediator with an engaging personality. Your mediator’s personality could make a significant difference in your level of comfort in the mediation session. Being comfortable means being able to open up and communicate freely—something that is absolutely necessary in mediation.