Questions to Ask Before Hiring a Mediator

There is important information you need to know when hiring a mediator.

If a candidate to mediate your case is also a lawyer, you know that person has graduated from law school and, if that person is a member of the Virginia State Bar, you know that he or she has passed a difficult bar examination to obtain a license to practice law. You can rest assured that such a lawyer can bring legal information to the mediation table. To see “Should My Mediator be a Lawyer” click here.

Because anyone can hold him/herself out to be a mediator in Virginia, it is important to find out more about candidates’ mediation credentials—be they lawyers or laypersons. When you talk to a candidate, ask about their mediation credentials.

In your search of a mediator the following may be helpful.

1. Tell me about your mediation TRAINING. Any specialty training (for example, law school, divorce mediation training etc.).

2. Are you CERTIFIED BY THE SUPREME COURT to mediate case filed in the courts of the Commonwealth? (While anyone in Virginia can claim to be a mediator, those who want to mediate cases filed in Virginia courts must be certified.) If the candidate is certified you know he/she has had a certain level of training.

3. What SPECIFIC CERTIFICATIONS have you received? There are various levels of certification.” For example, if yours is a divorce mediation you will probably want a mediator certified to mediate family cases in Circuit Court.

4. Tell me about your EXPERIENCE MEDIATING. For example, the estimated number of cases mediated by you. Were you participating as counsel to a party in the mediation or were you the mediator? These roles are significantly different.

5. Tell me a bit about your BACKGROUND: business, law, your education etc.

6. HOW LONG have you been mediating?

7. WHAT ARE YOUR FEES? This is the last question. It is the last question because until the questions above have been answered, it is hard to place a value on what you are buying. Just like any other service one needs to know what is being paid for before knowing what is to be paid. Generally, you should expect to pay more for those with more mediation and legal training and experience.

Finally, in considering the cost you may incur for mediation, consider and compare the cost that would be incurred if your case were litigated in court instead of mediated. Choosing to mediation will undoubtedly save you time and money- regardless of a mediator’s fees.

At the end of each candidate interview ask yourself if:

(1) you think the candidate is qualified to mediate your case and
(2) whether or not you will feel comfortable working the candidate.

Fees, of course, should be a factor— but only one of many.

Call us. We will be happy to answer these questions as well as any other question you may have.