Rising legal costs and great court caseloads have prompted a lot of individuals to settle their legal disputes and issues outside the courtroom. They do this through the process called ADR or Alternative Dispute Resolutions. A mediator, otherwise known as a conciliator and arbitrator, guide the process of ADR and help in resolving conflicts between the disputing parties*.
Various legal disputes are settled with the help of a mediator. Mediators, unlike lawyers, do not represent any of the disputing parties in a legal dispute. They are hired to become non-biased neutral mediators for everyone involved in a dispute. With the use of their extensive trainings in problem solving and conflict resolution, they are working to help opposing parties to resolve their legal disputes without a judge**.
Role and Duties of Mediators
A mediator facilitates settlement and negotiation between disputing parties by providing encouragement and direction, working closely with both parties, and looking for innovative ways to obtain a mutual solution that may benefit both parties. The specific duty of a mediator may actually vary, depending on the setting. Mediators may also facilitate discussions, control the direction of the negotiations and prepare social case histories, court reports and some other important documents*.
Although there are a lot of mediators who are former judges or lawyers, non-lawyers from different fields are also entering this profession. Today, there is no formal certification or licensing process that exists in the United Stated for mediators. Those who want to become a mediator may enroll in workshops and trainings that are now available through local and national membership organizations, independent mediation programs, and postsecondary schools. Different universities and colleges in the United Stated are also starting to offer advanced programs and degree in conflict management and dispute resolution**.
Who Can Become a Mediator?
Some mediators come from different educational backgrounds. Some choose this as their second career while others work as a mediator early on their lives. Anyone may become a mediator, but you need to have specialized training in the field. There are some valuable skills that are considered important to become an effective mediator including the following***:
- Ability to remain impartial and just
- Ability to work with different people of all ages and from all walks of life
- Has an understanding of the way people behave and respond when they are in the middle of conflicts
- Has the ability to allow people obtain their own resolutions, instead of directing them
- Excellent communication skills
- Exercise sound judgment
The United States Department of Labor reveals that earnings for mediators actually range from $28,090 to $102,202 each year. Their hourly rates can also range from $13.50 to $49.05. Majority of mediators are employed by the local and state government, universities and institutions, insurance carriers, corporations and legal service providers*.
As businesses and individuals seek to avoid the publicity, high costs and delays inherent in litigation, ADR is now becoming a famous alternative to lawsuits. Due to this, many mediators are estimated to experience massive growth in employment.
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*For more information, please visit: http://legalcareers.about.com/od/careerprofiles/p/Mediators.htm
**For more information, please visit: http://education- portal.com/articles/Mediator_Job_Description_and_Information_About_a_Career_in_Mediation.html
***For more information, please visit: http://www.ukmediation.net/sites/default/files/resources/A%20Career%20as%20a%20Mediator_0.pdf