In simple terms, a mediator is an independent and impartial person who helps both sides, in a dispute or conflict situation, come to an agreement. Mediation can be used in almost any situation where there is disagreement – from divorce, child abduction, housing matters, commercial disputes, and neighbour issues to more extreme terror and siege situations. Mediation can involve just two parties or, sometimes in complex commercial cases, many parties across different jurisdictions.
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Are you good at:
- Helping to resolve disagreements
- Staying calm and impartial during arguments
- Understanding both sides of a dispute
- Making constructive suggestions to resolve disagreements
- Being patient
What does a mediator do?
Usually mediators specialise in particular types of disputes, but their aim is to facilitate an agreement between disputing parties and help them to focus on finding workable, practical solutions within a supportive and non-judgemental environment.
Tasks might include:
- Arranging initial fact-finding meetings with each of the parties to establish the background to their dispute as well as understanding their objectives
- Gaining everyone’s agreement to take part in the mediation process
- Creating and maintaining a calm atmosphere to enable the parties to focus on objectivity rather than emotion
- Making practical suggestions to the parties to try to reach agreements
- Writing a ‘memorandum of understanding’ outlining what has been agreed between the parties
What are the different mediation areas?
The most common areas are:
- Divorce and child custody
- Employment disputes and industrial action
- Housing - landlord/tenant disputes
- Disputes between neighbours
- Commercial disputes
- The criminal justice system
What skills does a mediator need?
- Negotiation skills are key, as well as a non-judgemental, impartial, attitude
- The ability to manage ‘conflict’ and remain calm and encourage others to do so
- The ability to establish trust with all parties
- Excellent communication and listening skills
How much does a mediator earn?
Salaries vary hugely depending on the area of work involved, whether the mediator is employed or freelance, and on their qualifications and experience. At the lower end, a mediator might earn around £20,000 per year, while at the top of the pay scale, often with an extensive legal background, commercial mediators can charge fees equating to £80 - £100,000 per year.
How do you become a mediator and what experience will you need?
Often the route into mediation is via a job that includes an element of this. Gaining work experience in the following areas, might open up opportunities to build mediation experience.
- Citizens Advice
- Law Centres
- Law firms
- Trade unions
- The Police Service
There are mediation courses and law qualifications, such as a Master of Laws (LLM) in Mediation and Alternative Dispute Resolution, and bodies which govern mediation in some sectors, for instance:
Additional sources of information
- Prospects Job Profile
- Centre for Effective Dispute Resolution
- Civil Mediation Council
- Family Mediation Council
- Restorative Justice
- Ministry of Justice Guide
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