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Mediation is a great way to settle a wide variety of disputes from neighbor disputes in housing associations to parental rights and responsibilities. Whenever you can settle the inevitable disputes that arise in life, choosing to do so outside of the overburdened public court system can be a great relief to everyone involved. For many of life’s problems, mediation can be a simplified and much more approachable answer to the problem at hand. 

Since you’ve decided that mediation is right for your particular needs, you will want some more information with regards to how to choose the best mediator. A list of what to consider when choosing a mediator may prove invaluable to you down the road. 

How to Choose the Best Mediator 

Legal disputes are stressful and taxing life events. They can take a lot of time and energy and are sometimes fraught with emotions and chaos. They often occur at troubling times, when tensions are already high and capacity for a major event is low on a personal level. 

There are many different strategies for how to choose the best mediator, some more effective than others. For many the question of what to consider when choosing a mediator can be quite simple: let the other party choose the mediator. This may seem like a ridiculous idea at first glance, but hear us out. 

At the time of a dispute and in the immediate aftermath, tensions are high and the stakes for each decision we make even higher. Letting the other party choose the mediator can be a beneficial tactic and can allow the outcome to shift to a more favorable outcome for you. 

When you allow the other party to choose a mediator, you are saying that you are approaching this process with an open mind and a strong willingness to be an active participant in solution-making. The other party may take your lead and approach the process with less animosity and more consideration for a fair outcome if you take this bold, and seemingly selfless first step. 

For example, a man in the process of determining a child support payment plan with the mother of his newborn child may be aggrieved and hurt by the personal situation and concerned for his own future and his child’s future. But he agrees to let the other party choose the mediator. This move on his part can help keep contempt at bay and maintain a fair and equitable process. 

In this case, this person simply wanted the process to go as smoothly as possible to get the most favorable outcome possible. In short, he did not want the dispute to escalate beyond mediation

If allowing the other party to make the decision in choosing the mediator does not fit your scenario or appear to be a beneficial move on your part, you may need to utilize the following tips.

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3 Tips for Choosing the Best Mediator

1. Assess Your Comfort Level

First and foremost, you should feel comfortable talking to your mediator and expressing yourself in their presence or via Zoom. Very personal issues may come up and if you don’t feel comfortable with your mediator, it will only exacerbate the already difficult nature of these conversations. Your mediator should present as a good listener who does not judge what you are saying, but rather listens actively and responds appropriately. 

You may have heard this sentiment expressed as a “good fit.” One of the reasons we refrain from using that particular language here is that it can be problematic in certain circumstances. In many cases, choosing someone who is a “good fit” can mean choosing someone whom we believe is like us. This means we may be engaged in a process of electing someone based on our unconscious, or implicit, bias. The result of this can be a loss of diversity in the selection of a mediator. 

2. Review Their Experience

Experience is a marker we can more equitably engage with when choosing a moderator. You may decide that you need a moderator with X number of years of experience. Beyond simply years of experience, you will want to look for a mediator who has relevant experience. Whether or not your mediator attends regular training, holds certifications, and strives to continue their education to stay relevant in the field is all measurable and relevant information, thus, experience makes excellent criteria to consider in your search.

Different mediators will specialize in different areas of mediation and have varying familiarity with different subject matter. One mediator may specialize in divorce and custody while another may specialize in intellectual property. Finding a mediator with the relevant skillset is important.

3. Check Their Background

Finding out a bit about the mediator’s background, including their reputations is another great way to ensure you are selecting the best person for your dispute. Someone who has worked with people in your situation, or similar situations, at least and who has done so satisfactorily is indicative of continued success. Just as you would check reviews online before making a major purchase, you should ask around and do your homework to find out about how your mediator selections are perceived by others in the field or relevant fields.

If you need help navigating a complex legal dispute, do not hesitate to contact Breakthrough Mediation.