What does a mediator do?
Mediators are trained and experienced in dispute resolution. They act as neutral facilitators who help parties explore their differences and negotiate a resolution in a confidential setting. Mediators usually specialize in a particular area, such as family, estates and trust, labor and employment, or business mediation.
What skills do I need to be a mediator?
Mediators need to be familiar with the substantive law for the area in which they practice (e.g. family law). In addition, they need to have superior listening skills and the ability to question and work with mediation participants to clarify issues. A good mediator will also have the ability to maintain objectivity and neutrality.
What kinds of jobs are available for mediators?
There are positions in court-based mediation programs, private mediation practice groups, and government agencies. Some lawyers also combine mediation practices with their law practices. Mediation is also an important skill in the practice of law in that many clients will choose or be required to mediate disputes before a trial or hearing.
What courses should I take?
- Alternative Dispute Resolution Workshop
- Mediation Clinic for Families
- Mediation Skills
- Mediating Family Disputes: Theory and Practice
- Interviewing, Negotiating and Counseling
What co-curricular and volunteer activities should I consider?
Through the Mediation Skills class, you can complete the 40 hour basic training to become certified to be a mediator. You can also complete the 20-hour Child Access Mediation Certificate through the Mediating Family Disputes class. Practice opportunities in mediation are available through organizations such as Community Mediation Maryland, which offers free mediation training for its volunteers.
In addition, most District and Circuit Courts in Maryland keep rosters of qualified mediators who are available to mediate a wide array of disputes. It is possible to become a court-appointed mediator for some types of cases while you are still in law school, provided you complete the requisite training and observations.
A listing of public and nonprofit mediation programs in Maryland is available through the Maryland Mediation and Conflict Resolution Office of the Administrative Office of the Courts website. Consider attending an annual conference for the Association for Conflict Resolution or panel of the Maryland State Bar Association ADR section or the American Bar Association’s Dispute Resolution Section.