By: Donald C. Turner
The success of a mediation often depends on the mediator and his or her ability to bring the parties together and help them bridge the gap between their different positions. When selecting a mediator the parties should consider, among other things, the mediator’s style, the mediator’s subject matter expertise, and the mediator’s training and experience.
A mediator’s style is often classified as either facilitative or evaluative. Those of a facilitative style focus on fostering communications between the parties and refrain from evaluating each party’s position. On the other hand those mediators who employ an evaluative approach share their opinion as to the strengths and weaknesses of each party’s position. Often a successful mediation requires the mediator to employ both approaches, frequently starting with a facilitative approach to promote communication and then employing the evaluative approach to ultimately bridge the final gap between the parties positions.
The parties should also consider the mediator’s expertise as to the subject matter in issue. If the mediator does not have subject matter expertise the mediation may take longer in order to provide the mediator with the requisite knowledge to effectively perform his or her task. Subject matter expertise is particularly important if the parties believe an evaluative approach is needed to achieve a resolution.
The parties should also consider the mediator’s training and expertise because, like in some many other things, in reaching a successful mediation, there is often no substitute for knowledge and experience.
The mediator is a critical component to a successful mediation and the parties are therefore well advised to carefully consider who should serve as the mediator.