Caldwell & Kearns, P.C.
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Selecting a neutral mediator: some things to consider

Selecting a mediator is an important task for those looking to mediate a dispute. Mediators can vary in a number of different respects, including education and training, experience, style, and personality, and each of these things is important to consider in determining the appropriateness of a mediator for handling a dispute.

Pennsylvania courts require that mediators meet certain specifications, though there are no specific licensing or certification requirements. Mediator credentialing can vary at the national level, depending on the organizations with which the mediator is affiliated. Because of this, the specific level of alternative dispute resolution training varies among mediators.   

Experience in mediation is another important factor in determining whether a mediator is qualified. Those looking for a qualified mediator should pay attention to how many cases a mediator has handled, and what types of cases. Differences in training and experience are important to consider since they can indicate critical differences in a mediator’s qualifications and his or her track record of successfully resolving disputes.

Beyond differences in training and experience, another important consideration is that different mediators have different backgrounds, specialties, perspectives and biases. These differences can reflect mediators’ different levels of familiarity with the subject matter of the dispute. Not all mediators are attorneys, for instance, and not all attorney mediators have the same areas of experience. Different perspectives and biases can also be important to consider since they can impact the parties’ comfort level with the mediator, which can affect the mediation itself.

Another thing to consider is that there are different styles of mediation. Generally, mediation can be characterized as facilitative, evaluative or transformative, and different mediators prefer different approaches. In our next post, we’ll look at these different styles of mediation, as well as some other points of consideration when selecting a qualified mediator

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