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If How Can I Make Money From Mediation is the Wrong Question; What is the Right Question?

In response to my newsletters, I and a correspondent formulated a question, that I would like to ask people to respond to — with the hopes that I could put together a collection of responses as a publishable opinion or thought topic article.

The question/statement to be responded to:

At every mediation conference I attend, the main question mediators are interested in is “How can we make money at this?”

Haven’t we mediators been trained to wonder out loud when people seem to be stuck on one question, whether they are asking the wrong question? That creates the statement/question:

“If how can I make money from mediation is the wrong question, what is the right question?”

Mediators keep trying to position ourselves in the marketplace as professionals and entrepreneurs who ought to be highly paid for dispensing our valuable services. Would it be possible for mediators to reframe our own view of economics and our place in the economic system? How could we do this?

What is the right question?

Some answers, presented anonomously, as part of a work in progress. The first two answers I have are both radically different and I hope spark as much thought and feedback as the question itself.

The first and foremost QUESTION is: Why am I doing this? the answer will tell you why the 1st question has become: How can I make money at this.

If the answer is: 1) that I may be able to assist parties in communication to resolve their conflicts; 2) to receive satisfaction in fulfilling my purpose in life to help others; 3) to add skills to my current profession to diversify and enhance my career; 4) to educate people on how to effectively manage conflict; 5) to educate people on making choices for resolving conflicts that have escalated into disputes.

If the answer is one or all of the above, the answer to “how do I make money in mediation” will be answered.

I hope this helps.

I find that the group that usually asks this question is the group that is new to mediation and that has been brought into it by people advertising training as a gateway to a new and lucrative profession — when it is not.

Mediation is what law school used to be for people who did not become lawyers and before the MBA degree was as wide spread (I’m thinking specifically of civil service types) — a way to obtain training that was beneficial for their career — but not necessarily a career path.

I think that when taught and trained in that way, the conflict resolution skills that it provides are very useful, both in everyday life and at work. But when taught as “you can become a mediator taking court-annexed cases and become quite well to do, making 3-4 thousand a week” it is a fraud on the public.

I’ve seen programs (e.g. not just the “40 hour” training seminar, but 18-24 semester hours of class work, spread over 2-3 years of night classes) sold that way at $800.00 a credit hour, draining people of time and hope and energy and money, and, at the end, leaving them with nothing but exhaustion. That is criminal — and common.

And the real problem.

Since the real question is “how do I meet my need quickly now that I’ve had mediation training” and the answer is “you can’t meet them quickly and you can’t meet them with ‘just’ mediation training.” most of the people would be better off having taken classes in an executive mba program or something with more direct application.

In fact, I would suggest that the real question should be “I was defrauded of money, time and energy by a mediation trainer. How can I sue them and recover everything that I have lost, including the time and hope they have stolen?” The real question to organizations should be “What about mediation encourages such frauds on the public?”

In what specific ways do we provide value to our clients — both those who “win” and those who “lose”? What does each party walk away from the mediation with that contributes, at some point, to their bottom line?

Identify how your clients make money from your services, and you can make money, too.

Once you understand the details of the answers behind those questions, you are better positioned to figure out how to get some of “it”. (the money)

That’s my two bits, Steve.

Steve, here is my stock response:

— I have received your email, but regret to tell you that I have nothing to offer. I suspect you will get the same answer from all over; the ADR field is overrun with people who want very much to make a living doing this work.

I meet many people who are in this situation. So let me offer a piece of advice, if I may. There are jobs available in many companies and other organizations that ADR-oriented people may not apply for because they don’t seem to be “in this field.” But there is conflict everywhere you look. I recommend that anyone trying to start out in this field invert the search: look for a paying job doing “something” and then, once you’ve established yourself, look for opportunities to help resolve the conflicts you see around you. This way the would-be mediator has a chance to get some experience and credibility, among people who by definition already consider him/her worthy of hire—-and gets to eat regularly while doing it.

Good luck.

I love when I hear mediators speak in this manner…

Though I find this self-serving attitude disgraceful and largely detrimental to the field, it validates my thinking that if I convey my own personal philosophies in every manner of my professional relations, I can’t help but succeed.

The marketplace has a sense for why and what people have to offer. When the market smells the “quick buck” mentality, I believe that it RUNS in the opposite direction. People who ask the question, “How do I make money” are focused on themselves… not the marketplace.

In contrast, we are interested in the people and the processes. The marketplace gravitates to that. We ask the question, “how can we do better?”

As my great grandfather used to say, “it’s not what you make today that matters… but what you make tomorrow.” We have found that by taking a genuine interest in the people, their issues and the processes used to solve the, that we have positioned ourselves for growth and prosperity.

Any service has value when the buying public is well enough educated to seek the benefit of the service. Those of us who proport belief in the “higher” purpose of mediation are generating that understanding in the marketplace. Those who give away, educate. Those who market, collect.

I agree completely with response no.1 (one).

To add to that response: for a mediator to be truly useful as well as to make money, the mediator must try his or her best to use their mediation skills at home and at work. In other words, walk the talk.

If we are not integrated in our selves, how can we really expect to help others integrate? and even more importantly, how can we encourage society to begin to resolve conflict in an adult and early fashion if we don’t model “adult and early” conflict resolution at home and at school for our children, at work and at volunteer board meetings for our colleagues, at social and sports events etc etc for fellow travellers in this world (strangers)? (strangers to whom one can hand one’s business card).

I found the question and the two answers interesting. With any new business you have to market yourself. Also, you should have a good financial plan to keep you afloat because you won’t be making much money for a few years. Try to start your mediation business when you still have your day job to support yourself. You need to do extensive networking and alot of volunteer work.

Just like any other sole practitioner you have to establish your own clients. You may want to find a job with a government entity or a private corporation as an ombudsman, employee relations, etc. In regards to the second answer, I attended the University of Denver and received a Masters degree in applied communication with an advanced certificate in alternative dispute resolution (the course work was combined for a 60 credit degree). I don’t look at that program as a rip-off. As a matter of fact, I was able to create a new job for myself at a Fortune 100 company where I assisted employees in conflict resolution, department communications, facilitation, quarterly meetings, etc. By having a broad base of knowledge and experience I was able to accomplish this goal.

Currently, I am the Employee Relations Coordinator for the Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community in Scottsdale, Arizona. I assist in resolving conflict for 1300 employees in a culturally diverse environment. I also do conflict resolution training, investigations, participate in appeal hearings, assist in interviewing process, and edit the employee newsletter. Also, I teach conflict resolution at Ottawa University. The reason I have added many of these jobs is to show how my advanced degree gave me a broad base to use my mediation and communication skills. The way I positioned myself I would have money coming in and be able to open a mediation business without starving.

I believe people can make a living at being a mediator. However, the more skills a person has the more marketable they become. I hope this will help in your collection.

As to the question “How do mediators make money? The short answer is that most Mediators “per se” don’t.

The professionals who are successful in this field offer more than mediation skills and are well versed in the subject matter at hand.

As an example, Metro Mediation Service offers dispute avoidance education, project review prior to its undertaking, neutral evaluation at the initial stage of a dispute, and advice as to what the appropriate method of solution would be most effective. We also serve as advocates.

In other words the Mediator needs to bring to the table an expertise equal to the parties in dispute. He/she must also have the mutual respect of the parties either personally or by reputation. A positive track method is a must.

$150 -200/hr. is not an unreasonable fee for a Mediator of good reputation, but like most professionals, one must “pay their dues” and work in the trenches to develop the reputaion that justifies this fee.

I am a state certified mediator and have a position as a federal civil servant, in the field, in one of the smaller departments that is represented in the US cabinet. One of my positions (as a field employee) is ADR Coordinator for the facility where I am stationed. Our mediations are almost exclusively employment law based. The way I make money (or that the facility makes money by filling my position) is by helping the facility cut down on formal EEO complaints or ULP complaints. That’s real dollars and cents. Another way the facility makes money is by mediation helping people maintain positive working relationships.

Mediation even in small matters, even though the issue may never go to hearing, is helpful by people keeping their working relationships in “good working order.” The usefulness of this would be hard to calculate but is obvious – less turnover in employment, better productivity, fewer retirements, etc.

The majority of persons are always going to ask the money question. Mediators should rise above the majority in our thinking and ask the higher question: “How can I help others reach their goals, solve their problems?” It is in accomplishing this task that mediators will solve the money issue.

Thanks for allowing all of us to respond.

I think my response falls between the two contained above. I still pursue purpose as identified in the first opinion, in that, my work life is about the productive outcome of conflict. Yet, I can very much support the second opinion. I consider myself a conflict interventionist who sometimes uses mediation as a tool. An auto technician who uses socket wrenches does not callhim/her self a “socket-wrencher”. In short, mediation is a tool and not a profession.

The original questioner is labouring under a misapprehension; first, the question asked is the wrong one – mediation is, first and foremost, a vocation. One does not, or should not, use it as a vehicle for personal financial enrichment but to use it for the betterment of others. The question should be: how can I make the world a better place by virtue of my mediation training? and, how can I make a real difference? Finally, if you want to be a breadhead, go into business. People who are motivated purely by money cannot remain effective mediators – it is about public service, not free market economics.

First, let me state that I am not a lawyer and making money is not a bad thing. Taking advantage of clients is.

Even with licensing or accreditation, one still needs experience which we often pay for with our time. Some states require a minimum of two hundred hours before licensing.

It is important not to undervalue our skills.

One solution might be to form an organization which would underwrite the difference between a reasonable charge and what our clients are able to pay. There ought to be grant money available for that endeavor.

Why do I mediate? Because I believe in the process and I have a need to do what I can to contribute to a more amicable world.

Do I want to make money at it? Absolutely! But I do not want to become the equivalent of an emotional or legal ambulance chaser. As in any field, those people do exist. They will make their money. Though I personally do not believe that is ethical, they have their right to exist.

As mediation awareness increases, there will be plenty for all of us. The trick is to survive until that the market increases.

Perhaps the question should be “What can we do to increse public awareness of the mediation process and its many values?”

I would like to join this discussion and would like my reply – if used – dealt with anonymously please.. I think yours is a good way to encourage debate.

Being a mediator is more about who you are than what you do. Training, theory, knowledge and skills are essential but do not make people fully fledged mediators. Interpersonal skills and knowledge derived from several other disciplines are part of this selfhood (e.g. sociology, psychology etc). Training alone doesn’t make you a mediator.

I trained and mediated (after office hours, on the back of another job) for eight years before I was able to make a living from my preferred profession of engaging in alternative dispute resolution. During this time the work was almost pro bono, i.e. for little more than my expenses. I hung on in the belief that mediation is not only right for me but also for the clients (but not in every circumstance!). I continued to read key texts, study, think, discuss my work – in other words, I didn’t treat it like a hobby. I went down quite a few blind alleys looking for paid work in the field. In the end it has worked out. I have seen writings from other professions (e.g. engineering) about similar lengths of time it takes to get truly established in your chosen career. I know that most engineers will get paid during this time. The point is made that success doesn’t necessarily come easily – or cheaply – in other work.

This is not an argument in favour of underpaying mediators. I support proper rewards, recognition – and the responsibility and accountability that goes with these. However, if we believe mediation is a profession and not a serious of ‘skills and strategies’, mediators will take their work seriously as a way of being and living, rather than a route to money.

Best wishes,

I came to mediation from law. My practice was legislative, my topic environmental (often) and the environment I worked in was on-going multi-party conflict. The question mediation answered for me as a client advocate was:

How can I help my clients get more of what they need, keep what they get, and lower the surrounding conflict during the process?

Facilitated collaborative problem solving (mediation) was the answer. I saw the value for myself, and became sold!

I, too, am now struggling to build a paying practice, and am considering going back to my regulatory practice law. However, I think the answer is to educate and involve attorneys in the mediation process (I know this idea will automatically drive some people crazy). The conflicts that pay are the conflicts that put big dollar amounts at risk. Most people with big risk scenarios call lawyers. If lawyers learn what I learned in my own practice, they will bring their clients to the mediation table, and actively participate themselves. Mediation does not quelch the need for legal information, and lawyers have an important role in the process, just as we sometimes need technical people to bring us information to help us make an informed decision.

Where there is money, there are lawyers. Hopefully someday, where there is money there will be mediators.

I’ll be interested in hearing what others have to say.

I am a new mediator, and my question is, and has been “How can I be a successful mediator?” What do I need to do to “make it happen” when I am in a difficult situation in a mediation? My emphasis is not so much on making money (although I would like to have a career in mediation, because I love mediating!), but, I want to know how to build a clientele, how do I market myself and instill enough confidence in clients to choose me as their mediator? How do I let them know that it is my desire to make their lives better, the resolution of their situation comfortable and livable for them?

I have already questioned myself regarding an established hourly rate. Don’t those with less money have just as much right to our services as those to whom our hourly fee is no object? Should we have some flexibility in our hourly fees?

I guess it all basically comes down to the question: are we in mediation for ourselves only, or for the service and benefit we can provide to our clients? I, for one, am in this for my clients. I believe if I succeed with them and for them, my career (and its income) will take care of itself.

Thanks for allowing me to comment!

Since mediation is more an art then a science,making money at it is a hard proposition. You must be around for when,andif there are ever any monies…which is seldom for many organizations that use volunteers. I think if one does not get a joy of doing it, one will not do it long enough to be noticed and eventually paid…many are in this arena…we need many more, and then perhaps someone will figure out we should be compensated for this labor of love.

In my experience the only way that it will ever be possible to make money from mediation is to practise as a litigation lawyer, and use your mediation skills under the archways of the court. Everything else is a waste of time. The government folks are making programs and policies for themselves and the other folks are making codes of ethics and standards for their colleagues. I suggest that those activities are sui generis and should be ignored as wastage.

Here in Australia the result of the above is that we have a crazy national board that is trying to register all mediators and have them conform to a government-mandated code of conduct and be subjected to lunatic consumer complaints systems.This government body is driven by one particular private college that is trying to make some money out of training.

That is why the only answer to your question is: “Get a licence to practise law”.

I read both replies, and I thought the second opinion was a bit harsh, and negative. I think the writer has a chip on his shoulders, and I believe that he needs an attitude adjustment. Mediation is about all the things mentioned by both writers. Of course we want to get paid for our training, knowledge, and skills. That is why we work, and that is why we train, and that is what we all shoot for; a better salary, or a potentially better salary. Otherwise, what’s the use.

I got into mediation because I thought I possessed some skills that I wanted to polish up. I have always enjoyed helping others, and mediation provides me that opportunity. But it isn’t only about helping others. It is about helping two sides reach an agreement that is good for both sides. It is about a process that is cheap, and quick. Look at the statistics; about 76% of cases that are mediated are successfully mediated, and it takes only a day or two, or at most a few weeks to resolve, versus the formal process that can take years and years, and is only 1% successful.

I certainly don’t figure on getting rich doing mediation, but I do expect to supplement my salary. And in the process, I hope to be able to assist two sides resolve their differing issues. And also in the process I hope to be able to help the courts get rid of the mundane cases that strangle our legal system at a tremendous cost to all concerned. Mediators can deal with the lessor cases in a short time, and at a fraction of the cost.

This an interesting question and I think the second response shown below is also an interesting take on the issue if perhaps a bit cynical. Mediation like every skill set used in business is subject to exploitation and “faddism.” When something becomes “hot” like mediation has become, individuals and institutions come forward offering to train people in how to do it either implying or coming right out and saying that there is money to be made. This has happened with “Quality” skills and programs, strategic planning approaches, time management, personal planning, and on and on.

As you suggest at the beginning, the question is not “How can I make money at this?” From my view, the real questions are “What skills do I have?”; “Who needs my set of skills?”; and “What am I trying to accomplish?”. Anyone I know involved in mediation or conflict resolution has multiple sets of skills. The three questions I suggest attempt to get at what unique set of skills any one of us have to offer a client, the world, our employer, etc.

Once we understand what we have to offer and what we want to achieve, making money is simply a matter of matching our skills and goals to others who need what we have.

I hope you find these thoughts useful.

The questions at the juncture of the two answers is this: What is my life’s calling, how do I put myself in the position to do it, and what will I need to do my work and sustain myself?

The answer to the first question is contained in the second answer – defraud the public and sell them a bill of goods about making money as mediators.

I’ll be interested in hearing the outcome of this.

The question: “how can i make money from mediation is the wrong question. what is the right question?”

first, this is really a rhetorical question. however, i will give you some of my thoughts.

I believe the “right question” is why be a mediator? in reality, there is no “right question.”

If we are being philosophical, we must address the issue of altruism vs. hedonism. my belief, although somewhat negative and not conducive to successful mediation, is that there is no such thing as altruism. someone who takes action for the alleged purpose of benefiting others, and therefore being altruistic, finds pleasure in the action; therefore, hedonistic.

I am certain that many people are drawn to mediation as a new method of obtaining riches. most states have little, if any, regulation of mediators. a decade ago the big, new “profession” was personal coach. no licensing. no regulation. simply hang up a shingle, telephone, or computer, and you were in business. convince people you could make their lives better and you had a high paying career.

It appears that mediation has a faction that is heading in that direction. no sense in working at being a mediator; teach it and get rich. the basic philosophy is not that difficult to teach. why spend the time developing interpersonal skills? Who cares if the newly trained mediators can find a place to ply their wares.

mediation holds an opportunity to help build something rather than tear it apart. As a litigator for twenty years, I longed for an opportunity to find my way out of the morass and into a better place.

I do not believe that a person can be “successful” at mediation if they do not believe in the process and are guided only by the dollars. This may be naive. My definition of “successful” is assisting the parties to find a resolution that they want, not what you convince them they want.

Most of my mediation to date has been volunteer or court annexed (meaning little pay). my goal is to be a full time mediator. This translates to “how can we make money at this?” but I don’t believe i will ever make money at mediation if I use payment as a motivation or goal.

I find the mediation process to be a pleasurable place. many people have asked whether i really enjoy doing it. my response; immensely. I get a feeling of pleasure and pride when a matter settles. I also become dejected when a case should settle and it does not. fortunately, I don’t dwell on the case that did not settle and move on to the next one.

If someone looking at mediation does not find the process enjoyable, i do not believe they should not go any farther. If they are able to settle matters, it will likely be through an evaluative, pressured process, not what i believe is the true meaning of mediation. (this is not to say that evaluative mediation is never appropriate. my desire is to allow the parties to be in control; therefore, I utilize facilitative methods unless i get to the point where i believe evaluation is necessary).

As usual, I have rambled on. the only bad part of the internet is the impersonal messaging that allows one take a soap box, rather than directly communicate. I hope my rantings have some coherence and provide you with insight.

How can I make money at this?

The original request involved analyzing the question “How can I make money at this?” as the question relates to employment as a mediator. Further consideration requested analyzing whether or not the question could or perhaps should be reframed. To that end, the following comments are provided.

Today, anyone can hang out a sign and call themselves a mediator. Certification only permits court ordered mediation. A degree in conflict resolution simply makes one an educated person authorized to conduct court ordered mediation.

If one asks “How can I make money at this?” the full analysis calls for the un-bundling of the underlying issues perhaps related, directly or indirectly, as well as the inferences or perceptions, real or imagined. Let’s look at some hypothetical case examples for clarity.

Hypothetical Case #1: A person attends one single 40-hour course in mediation. That person works for a company and wants to establish a program by which problems can be resolved internally to reduce conflict, minimize litigation, and improve overall operations within the organization.

Hypothetical Case #2: A person attends one single 40-hour course in mediation, thereby achieving the minimal state expectations for allowable service as a court-ordered mediator. That person’s sole purpose was to achieve certification to allow them to engage in a for-profit business operation as a court-appointed mediator.

Hypothetical Case #3: A person attends college and graduates with a degree in which conflict resolution is the major. As a result, many courses in mediation, arbitration, and related directed focus avenues are undertaken. That person’s goal is to enter into a professional arena in which conflict resolution serves as a significant focus. Examples include, but are not necessarily limited to: counseling, mediator, arbitrator, judge, attorney, human resources, and consulting services.

In Case #1, the question “How can I make money on this?” takes on a significantly different connotation than that of the other two cases. Here, it could imply that the person is enjoying what they are doing in their regular job assignment, and the new skills not only offer an opportunity to achieve their desired original goals, but that there may somehow be an opportunity to capitalize on the skills that are available. In this case the question may be reframed as “How can one capitalize on these skills in order to achieve a supplementary income?”

In Case #2, the question “How can I make money on this?” may focus on the real desire to make this type of service a primary occupation. As such, the question could be reframed as “What steps need to be undertaken to become a successful full-time mediator?” As should be the case with any new occupational venture, there are a host of adjoining questions that should accompany the first question. They include: What can I realistically expect in terms of annual incomes? What amount of investment costs are anticipated for initial start-up? What are the best methods of advertisement? What pitfalls should I avoid?

In Case #3 the question “How can I make money on this?” can vary in its most beneficial reframing depending on the type of profession ultimately chosen and the proportional relationship these skills have to the overall profession. For example, these skills could easily represent 80% of the daily focus for a professional mediator, 60% of a consultant, and perhaps as little as 30% for a business executive. In this case, the question might be reframed as “What advantages do these skills provide in providing success in my chosen profession?”

If a person is simply searching through the many entrepreneurial books, magazines, and job “dot.coms” for a “get rich quick without having to make a large investment in time or money and to be able to hire a full-time office staff within 90 days and have a six figure income to be able to afford a big house and a new car and membership to country clubs so I can play golf all day and call myself rich” gimmick, then those are typically unavailable except through rare chances of luck (lottery), inheritance from a rich relative, or illegal activity. Here the old saying of “If it’s sounds too good to be true, it probably isn’t” comes to mind.

If one considers that mediation arose as a result in the lack of responsiveness of litigation to the needs of the people, one can then readily recognize the need to minimize the legislative mandates on its structure. This may be an entirely different topic for discussion, but is an important component here for this reason; some will contend that professionalism equates to rigid controls and standards. While that may be true in some areas, it is not applicable to all area. Likewise, being a professional is oftentimes equated with large salaries, and that too is a misguided perception. Some professional musicians do get rich, but many successful professional musicians make about the same salary as other “blue-collar” workers. Physicians have rigid controls, but artists thrive outside the lines of norm.

Philosophically, one should first determine what they enjoy doing in life. Then one should try and see if they can do that professionally to the extent that they can sustain a minimally acceptable standard of living for them. Finally, one should strive to improve personally and professionally so that their services are so successful that the demand for them increases. The end result then falls to the simple economic law of supply and demand. From here then follows the two important terms for any business, and more especially this line of professional services: Networking and Marketing for success.

Perhaps it all boils down to how one views themselves and defines that which is important to them. Success is what we make of it, and one wise man once said: If you always do more than your paid for, you will eventually be paid more for what you do.

May God Bless each of you in whatever you chose as your profession

I have taken conflict resolution and mediation classes in my local university. I had hoped to become a mediator but have found that many attorney’s now have the same training and are just making it a part of their practice. Mediation and conflict resolution is useful in many if not all professions including parenting. When one’s goal in any career is only about money,success in material goods will come but referrals will not. Integrity and sincerity will lead to the money. I have found that to be true in my own life.

The question therefore should be how can I use my skills to benefit another and make a living while doing so? When integrity and sincerity is felt by the client referrals will come increasing one’s financial position.

As a mediation “Coach” the “how can I make money at this question” is one I hear often and I have long believed it to be poorly worded. A better wording might be

“How can I effectively market my services as a mediator?”

While there is no easy or simple answer , I believe that if mediators are asking this question, they may benefit from some measure of training in marketing and starting and running a small business preferably one that includes components on “networking” and “strategic planning”.

Finally mediators should remember the old addage “be careful what you wish for…” before beginning to market . They should have a clear vision of what it is they want. If, as is the case with many mediators ,

this is a part-time post retirement job for them, they will want to factor that into their marketing plans. If however, they wish to be full time professional mediators…they will want to plan their marketing strategy accordingly.Taking time to do a SWAT analysis comparing their local market to their own goals as mediators will pay off in the long run even if it results in a conclusion that they shouldn’t quit their dayjob..

Just as mediators have trained to develop a mediation tool box..those going into it as a small business need to either have and/or develop a marketing toolbox or hire a marketer or business planner to assist them.

If the question is how do we make money at this then there are two fundamental problems.

First marketing and management; we as mediators are in business, to dispense knowledge and hopefully improve communication between parties whether it is family, business, government, consumers etc. Since this a business then we need to look at how we manage our business, and perhaps individually reposition ourselves as experts in one field or industry. In other words engage in niche marketing and learn to manage a business.

The second problem is that perhaps we are not doing a good enough job in presenting the benefits of mediation to the public. I have found that most EU countries and many Pacific Rim countries encourage all forms of ADR.

Within the US we are more litigious and it takes 3-5 years to resolve cases. So we need to educate the litigators both outside and inside counsel, corporate management and the judiciary.

By the way, I am one of those who obtained his JD then spent 15 years in corporate management prior to launching a mediation practice specializing in the logistics industry.

You have brought a very interesting question to mediators which bring a garden variety of answers. The answers will vary depending what are the goals of a given individual by becoming a mediator. The argument of some companies or individuals that are training people inculcating the believe that once they become certified after a mere 40 hours of training they will be able to start a “career” is totally deceiving

Mediation is a complex process that requires more that is been offered by some training schools. Let me explain. There is most for individuals involved in any type of mediation or ADR to have as a basic foundation strong communication skills which required but are not limited, listening skills, feedback skills, problem solving skills, analytical skills, and most important skills to understand the fundamentals of human behavior.

In other words why people act the way they act when facing a conflict. This knowledge and experience those not flourished overnight, or with any crash course in dispute resolution. In answering your question, they are people that want to become mediators because the challenge that it presents for the mediator, to help individuals in a given conflict that appears to be an “intractable conflict,” with no apparent solution. The mediator, by helping individuals realize that the conflict can be solved, in my opinion is a most rewarding experience.

After all we do not know what would be the ramifications of an unsolved conflict in the community. In the same continuum, they are individuals that are pressing for knowledge which goals are pure an simple “self actualization”.

Mediation is an art, still is in its infancy, but growing fast. With this perspective we are going to see more stringent requirements in the future to become a certified professional mediator. The time will come when states will impose state certification in order to be a qualified mediator regardless of your professional backgrounds, and in order to be certified, the applicant must complete a curriculum in a state approved university or institution.

After reading the responses of the two gentlemen,one point is clear and that is mediation/mediators in the western world have left us in africa behinde;from the question and issues raised it will seem that mediation/mediators have managed to cave an identity for itself seperate from traditional mode of settlement which is the law courts.

In Nigeria, mediation to an extent is still at it’s purbic stage,trying to get free from the common law and equity mode of practise.Unlike were a systerm provides for trianing on mediation,you fine that down here any lawyer by virtue of the fact that he/she is a qualified lawyer will more time than not consider him/herself an authority in mediation and so the next question is “where lies professionalism?”.Moreso a legal systerm whose conservativeness and rigidness like nigeria’s does not encourage nor enlighten law students or practitioners on mediation as a mode of legal settlement,making direct court action the only recognised mode of settlement.

Against this backdrop,the anwser to your questions as it affect my own environment will be that for:

1- Mediation will first of all have to be attractive to the public in general.

2- Only after this can proper enlightenment be proceeded with.

with this two points the importance of mediation will be seen and mediators in general will be appreciated;it’s all about the packaging.

I received your e-mail regarding the question “How do I make money at Mediation” – I think that was the wording. My answer would fall into the same category as any other business venture, you have to believe in what you are doing and be diligent everyday. If the interest in mediation is to become rich and successful then that is the area that needs to be explored by that individual, it is different for everyone as to what motivates them to do what they do! If a person is choosing to utilize mediation as an opportunity to achieve material worldly recognition then they must tap into the resources that have demonstrated a return on that venture. If a person is desiring to share a skill set training with others for profit then they must also look into what is the social, community, cultural, worldly ….on and on, perspective of where the training from that institution / facility etc., will / may eventually take them if tenacity as applied.

If on the other hand a person acquiring the skill set wishes to share their knowledge for the sake of the betterment of humankind and for profit is not the motif then they would have to re-evaluate the perspective of “how do I make money at Mediation” from the view point of how much money is enough to live on. “What,” is the true motivation, and is really the only question that should be asked first before the second question of “How,” from my perspective as a mediator. My choices have been related to an educational model for the introduction into the learning environment form the earliest ages.

Teaching a new paradigm of thought is not easy in a world that thinks that the model in place, power, control, aggression, determent, and punishment are the only models that people learn from is a difficult model to infiltrate in a world unwilling to let go of this model. Making money is not really that difficult if that is the true motivation and the person desiring that kind of return does not remin in a state of how difficult it is, self perpetuate their belief in the difficulties involved in being an entrepenure, an adventure, a person willing to take the risks where others have not achieved a desired return on their investment. Being self employed is not an easy task. It requires great quanities of disipline, not everyone is up for this task. Good luck with your other responses.

Some of the folks who are eager to “make money” are those who are new to the field, in a hurry to become a “professional” and do not recognize that it takes far more than 40 hours of training.

Coming from the higher education arena, I saw many people in their senior year with similar attitudes — not wanting to do an internship, etc. Some wanted to begin their job “at the top.” The wiser ones realized the value of experience.

As you implied — if your heart is in the right place and you feel a sense of dedication — it is displayed in the dedication to your work and offers for paid mediations seem to follow.

I am a former Counselor, Univ administrator/faculty — and loved my work — but mediation is something I enjoy immensely — and I have paid many $ for training (350+ hrs), because I see so frequently — Instant Results!! This is something counseling rarely provided me.

I do pro bono work — and love it — I also mediate for federal agencies and am paid — and enjoy doing those, also. It isn’ t the money at all for me — it is doing something I enjoy.

I could write a thesis on this — but won’t bother you with that — this is written without my editing so pardon the lack of continuity — but wanted to respond to your msg.

To make sure I’m focusing correctly,…… of the questions stated below, the question you would like an answer to is: “What is the right question?”

hmmm, I first need to say that the initial question is puzzling, surprising and a little shocking, but then I agree with one of your respondents below – these folks who are asking this must be “new” or led astray or perhaps they would be entering any profession asking that question, looking for the quick buck? I don’t meet many myself, but I have met people who having just brushed across mediation or heard about it thought that “Wow that must be easy.. I could take some training and make money doing that?!….” At the time, I didn’t feel it necessary to educate them…. their interest didn’t seem deep enough to warrant a thoughtful …..

So, what is the question? How about one of the following:

How can I maintain my life while I pursue this life of service to others?

How can I balance this life of service with my obligations to myself, to my family, and my regular paying job that supports the rest?

Is there truly a way in which I can “do what I love and the money will follow”?

How can I retrain my thinking from “mediation competes with my need to make money” to “mediation work I do regardless of my need to make money”.

How is that?

Stephen, I read this with great interest. As a mental health therapist hoping to augment my practice with mediation, I went to training expecting to spend a couple of months marketing my mediation skills, and expecting the door to just swing open with referrals. I resent the 1/2 day of training that suggested I could do this.

After two years as a certified mediator, my training finally generated enough revenue to have paid for itself last month. In the system of mediation that has developed in my area, it is unlikely that without a law degree, I will ever be able to make good, consistent money. Most of the mediations in our area are either held in family court (I am a court mediator 2-3 times a month), or are personal injury claims which are only conducted by personal injury attorneys.

Mediation makes sense, is cost-effective for the receipients, and the demand for our services should be overwhelming. But as a profession, we are young. It is unlikely there will be a wholesale demand for high-paid mediators any time soon.

The question from my view is, “what is the ethical burden of educators or trainers to disclose the economic prospects in a given field?” I believe you can fault the most prestigious universities with a failure to expose the horendous prospects of making a living in an abundance of subject areas. The end result is that you have many PHD’s forced to take non-related jobs with minimal challange and money.

When I am asked by a prospective mediator about economic prospects. I level with them. “It is a tough place to make a living and you have to market yourself like crazy” Still many of these embryonic mediators go forward with rosy optomism and sign up for the training. This creates over competition which has a negative affect on the profession.

This is a fruitful place for you to inquire. I wish you success.

My (Stephen Marsh’s) afterword:

I found the replies that I recieved, both those I used above and those I did not, facinating.

The question is one I must admit to having heard time and time again. If you participate on the mediation listserves, no one wants to hear anyone ask the question “how do I break into the field” or “how do I find work?” If you visit my web site, you will find that before you can get through the e-mail link to me, I’ve discussed the topic and attempted to divert people from writing me and asking that question.

On the other hand, there are two questions I see as useful metaquestions, and ones that do not duplicate the things that people have written when responding to the question I posed to over 1,400 people.

First, “what use is mediation training if I plan to do nothing more than get the “basic” 40 hours of training?” and

Second, “what careers fit mediation training?”

I just talked to a friend’s class and as I think about it, I was addressing the second question, which somewhat answers the first question.

People with Dispute Resolution training (an on-going analysis, not comprehensive) are employed in the following areas:

  • Court Annexed (mediation)
  • Senior Litigators (e.g. board certified family law attorneys doing family mediation)
  • Experienced Mediators
  • Small Claims Programs (e.g. Oklahoma)
  • Private Forums (arbitration)
  • Industry knowledge (e.g. construction)
  • Attorneys in field
  • Government
  • ADR program hires (e.g. EEOC mediators)
  • Freelance professionals (e.g. FMCS)
  • HR program outgrowths (e.g. VA)
  • Civil Service/Foreign Service.
  • Public Disputes
  • Environmental mediation
  • Racial facilitation initiatives
  • Ethnic conflicts
  • Community Centers
  • Administrators
  • Pro bono staffers
  • Consulting
  • Church related dispute resolution
  • Political clashes
  • Family therapy mediation (his, hers, ours).
  • Corporate trainers
  • traditional outside trainers
  • inside hr and diversity style personnel (c.f. government programs)
  • internal program trainers (dispute resolution training is something that a large corporation can keep a trainer busy on as an internal specialist, constantly training new groups or refreshing old trainees).
  • Academics
  • Law school professors (just like jurisprudence or constitutional law)
  • Sociology professors (conflict and political process)
  • Psychology professors (e.g. therapeutic mediation)
  • Business
  • “Real” teachers (i.e. K-12 — the area where more dispute resolution training goes on than anywhere else is in schools by school teachers).
  • Private Business

Just like law school used to be the inside track to doing better in career civil service, dispute resolution training seems to be the way to do better as a business manager. HR (human relations). This seems the obvious, in some dispute resolution groups over half the members are human relations professionals, but it isn’t that obvious to many. Dispute resolution training is a critical skill for an HR career and an HR career is a good goal for many trained in dispute resolution. Those are the places that dispute resolution training can be used and those with training in it can be found.

I think if you start with that list and then go back over the essays, you will have a good deal of perspective of where dispute resolution training can take you and what it requires to get you to where you want to be.

There are several realities:

A. Court-annexed mediation is really putting yourself out as a “wise elder” and success in that area requires that you be able to market yourself to attorneys as a wise elder. Those who can do that, succeed. However, the training is not a replacement for “wise elder” status, merely something that enhances it.

B. Outside of court-annexed mediation there are a number of professional fields that either benefit from dispute resolution training or that are focused on it. However, all of these are true professional tracks (i.e. if you were to decide on teaching as a Ph.D. in business with an emphasis on conflict management, you would still need to get a Ph.D. in business), not replacements for a professional track.

C. In some areas, of useful but modest professionalism, such as human relations, dispute resolution training is very valuable and an important part of career training. Those areas are still professional tracks and still require the core competency training — ADR training is not a replacement to the core, but merely should be a part of it.

I hope this outline of what you can find people doing with dispute resolution training will help anyone interested in the area understand what the training is good for and how it can fit into their life goals and professional needs.

If anyone has a counterpoint, add a comment.


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