The MC3, a mediation membership organization in Southern California, has begun certifying mediators who meet a published set of qualifications and requirements. Those qualifications specify acceptable mediation-specific training and describe the performance of a minimum number of cases and hours of mediation practice. MC3 publishes a code of ethics certified mediators must agree to follow and a grievance procedure to enforce it. Finally, MC3 requires the applicant to be and remain current and active in mediation by continuing to take relevant training and mediate cases.
The requirements and qualifications are significant, designed to mark a “gold standard.” However, since it is a voluntary certification, not a license, what does it mean for mediators? And as importantly, what does it do for mediation participants?
For the mediators
Certification recognizes what a mediator has accomplished. That recognition is transparent and straightforward – here are the qualifications and requirements, and here is a list of mediators who have voluntarily demonstrated that they meet them.
Certification states publicly what a qualified mediator has learned, how the mediator practices that learning, and the mediator’s commitment to staying current and active in the field. It includes a code of ethics, required notifications, records keeping, and an agreement to a grievance process.
Publishing the qualifications and requirements means that mediators seeking certification can know what they must do, agree to do, and provide as documentation.
For the parties
Certification provides objective and verified information about the mediator. The qualifications and requirements are up-front and transparent. Certification assures mediation parties that practitioners on the list of certified mediators have provided required and verified documentation of their qualifications and have agreed to meet ongoing requirements.
Publication of the code of ethics and the grievance procedure assures parties of the professionalism certified mediators must demonstrate.
For the public
More broadly, but consistently with the benefits to the mediators and the parties, the general public realizes significant advantages from mediation certification as well. Certification provides an insider’s definition of the qualifications and requirements of a mediation practitioner. The public statements of certification provide transparency to encourage participation by broad and diverse groups of mediators and parties.
Mediation in and of itself provides incredible social and cultural resources – certification amplifies the potential contributions of those resources by encouraging participation. Mediation sessions model informed decision making, and certification provides the critical information needed to consider and select mediation practitioners.
Remaining current in the ongoing activities, theory, and practices of mediation is critical to certification. Those requirements ensure relevance by requiring that mediators not only qualify to receive certification but that they keep up with the practice.
Certification raises the bar for the practice of mediation. It provides assurances to the public that mediators take their roles seriously and practice conscientiously. Voluntary mediator certification distinguishes mediators who have chosen to be part of and support efforts to professionalize mediation. MC3 collaborates with organizations who provide mediator panels as well as those that provide training and other resources to mediators. It is a non-profit membership organization supported by fees charged its members and contributions made by others who support its goals and objectives. Further information is available on the MC3 website.
The following article is a revised and expanded version of lectures delivered by the author at the Victoria University of Wellington School of Law and the Faculty of Law, University...By Tom Stipanowich