New to Mediation

New To The Field of Mediation asks:

What is your best advice, in addition to taking the DRC’s 40 hour basic course, you would give to one who is brand new to the field but interested in hitting the ground running?  Specifically, how does someone new to the field get cases and clients?  Is it typical for newbies to volunteer first and how can I find a mediation practice to join?

Thanks so much!


Kris Responds:

Hi, Nicole:

My best advice is to critically review your past experience and your current strengths.  If you were an established professional in another field before you sought Mediation training; then what was it about that field that drew your interest and what skills and talents did you glean from it?

Drawing upon that background, develop a niche for facilitating disputes within that arena.

The dubious positive about our field is that no profession can claim to dominate a market on conflict leaving the applicability of one’s talent a wide berth within which to practice.  If you worked with children, conflicts abound in higher education, specialty needs and the social services such as adoption.  If it was a business background, consider commerce related mediation …i.e. customer disputes,  BBB complaints (they use mediators for referrals).  If you’ve an administrative background, certainly public and private agencies have witnessed the benefit of those trained in dispute management on their staffs or on contract.

Volunteering gives you experience in areas you might not otherwise have had the opportunity to obtain.  It is an on-going training ground, keeping skills fresh, and providing a gratifying way in which to give back to the community.  It is not likely to generate referrals for you due to the low profile, confidentiality of the process.  Joining those organizations designed to promote private mediator practices (state and national) as well as being involved in civic, church and other community groups and marketing your niche skills are the things that I hear from those private mediators who have established a presence for themselves.  Many of these practitioners train, consult, write, teach and/or do other jobs by the way.   I hope this helps.  If you check back through the Voice Box Q and A, you will find similarly worded questions and responses that are even more detailed.

Good luck!