Sunday, August 7, 2016

How to pick a mediator

Anyone that takes a 40 hour intro course in Texas can call themselves a mediator.


After doing this over 10 years I can tell you that after I took the basic training I was dangerous. I was a lot like a kid that had just gotten their training wheels off their bike - unsteady and wobbly - unsure of what I was doing.

I had been an attorney for 15 years when I took the basic training to be a mediator and I had attended dozens (aka many but less than 100) mediations as an attorney - but shifting to the mediator role was different.

Mediation required vastly different skills than litigation. It takes a while to develop and grow as a neutral facilitator (aka mediator)

Every year with the State Bar of Texas I am able to join the group for people that excel in taking a lot of continuing education training. Why? Because I now that a lot of legal training in family law and mediation training.

I can honestly say that I learn something at every mediation training that I attend. I call it "adding to my tool kit". I also read a lot and network with other mediators.

So if I was looking for a mediator I would want one that is Credentialed by the Texas Mediator Credentialing Association.  Texas does NOT have any other group that attempts to regulate mediators.  They have a grievance procedure for Texas.

Please be aware that even though I am an attorney if I serve as a mediator then the State Bar of Texas does NOT regulate my work.

The State Bar of Texas does not have anything to do with mediators - they only regulate attorneys in Texas.  I can turn in my bar card tomorrow and the State Bar of Texas would have no say so on my mediation role.

I also belong to the Association of Attorney Mediators. They offer malpractice coverage for their members. There is an application process that is required to join and a potential member must have letters of recommendation from people that they have mediated for in the past.
Quite frankly, not many mediators in Texas even bother to apply to this group. I joined 2 years ago and I'm really impressed with this organization and their mediator trainings that occur 2 times a year.

Did you know that most mediators in Texas do not carry malpractice coverage.

I also belong to the following mediation groups:
Association for Conflict Resolution - Houston Chapter
Texas Association of Mediators
Academy of Professional Family Law Mediators
Association of Family & Conciliation Courts
Texas Mediator Roundtable (for trainers of mediation)
Houston Bar Association - ADR section
State Bar of Texas - ADR section

So realize that there are mediators in the Houston area that have never even taken the basic 40 hour training that call themselves mediator.  Why? Because this is a very hard field to regulate. You do NOT have to be an attorney to call yourself a mediator.

When I decided to shift my practice from litigation to mediation I make a conscious decision to become the best mediator I could be and I have spent thousands of dollars learning my craft and investing in the field.

Please don't assume any attorney can be a mediator. The skills required are vastly different. I've caught myself in mediation having to take a break and remind myself that I am only the mediator and I cannot give legal advice or tell the person that their attorney is wrong even though I know the legal advice is incorrect. It's difficult to keep my mouth shut but if I serve as a mediator then I must carefully walk this potential minefield.

So when hiring a mediator think...
Do I want someone that is just learning this craft or do I want someone that is committed and dedicated to doing an exceptional job.

As a mediator, the decision is totally up to you.

As I like to say, today you are the "boss" and you make all decisions. I'm only here to help you look at all your options. (Most people laugh and relax when I say that!).

Good luck!

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