By Shawn Skillin, Esq.
Family Resolution Institute Co-founder
A Mediation Career can be rewarding whether you’re a lawyer, a mental health professional or a financial professional.
No matter what types of disputes you may mediate, mediation as an alternative method of conflict resolution, gives you control over your hours and your caseload. It also gives you a chance to make a real difference in the lives of others.
Additionally, you have an opportunity to work with other professionals in a non-adversarial environment. Gratefully, a mediation career lets you be nice, almost all the time. Therefore, mediating family law disputes makes for a fulfilling and satisfying career.
Greater Control with a Mediation Career
Control is why many clients choose mediation as an alternative method of conflict resolution for their divorce. Clients want to control how fast or slow the process moves along, costs and outcomes.
But control is also a great reason for professionals to choose mediation as a career path. Controlling when and where you work and how many clients you see in a day, week or month makes it possible to live and enjoy the rest of your life, too.
You don’t have to miss that little league game or piano recital. In addition, there are no emergency ex parte hearings to mess with your schedule. I once had to miss the beginning of my son’s birthday party because opposing counsel would not be flexible in scheduling an Ex Parte.
Because you work with both clients, educating them along the way, having them set agendas and establish timelines, there are fewer emergencies along the way. Together, all of these “control issues” make your professional life a lot easier and more predictable. In turn, it makes your personal life better, too!
Successful mediators help both clients manage the divorce transition in a more positive, less stressful way.
Mediators have the rare privilege of working with both clients. By educating them, setting a calm tone, and providing coaching and reassurance along the way, you can decrease their anxiety and keep things on an even keel. You can teach them what to expect and how to handle the stress, anxiety, and emotions that pop up along the way for themselves and their children.
I’ve had so many clients tell me they feel like they are losing their mind or going crazy. They aren’t functioning well at work, they are forgetful, they aren’t sleeping well and they’re losing weight. Reassuring them that this is normal, that they aren’t losing their mind, and that it will get better, really helps them settle down. Clients really appreciate this! A lot! Happy clients, happy practice!
In addition, spending some time talking about how their children are doing is also helpful.
For clients who have children, this is often their main concern. Helping them to think about their children’s strength’s and weaknesses and how to manage both effectively during the divorce is helpful. Also including information on dating new people, moving to separate homes, warning signs that kids are not coping well, and community resources for children really helps parents.
Watching parents take a deep breath and a sigh of relief is so rewarding. It’s one of the best parts of being a family mediator.
A Cooperative and Relaxed Atmosphere
One of the other things I really enjoy about mediation is working with other professionals in a non-adversarial environment. Whether I’m the mediator or consulting counsel, the atmosphere is much more cooperative and relaxed.
There is still some posturing to be sure, but much less than in a litigated case. Discovery tends to be informal. There are no depositions to suck the life force out of you. Neutral financials can be invaluable in providing information and options for the clients and the other professionals involved.
All of this makes for great professional working relationships often leading to future referrals and a busy practice. When everyone gets along and the case moves along easily, clients are happy too.
Aspiring mediators often say they are looking for a more relaxing, less adversarial practice.
With a mediation career, you never have to write a nasty lawyer letter or make nasty phone calls when you’re the mediator. Instead, you get to be nice, calm and reassuring. It’s a good space in which to work.
This doesn’t mean you don’t have challenging days. You do. But it’s a different kind of challenge. Its better than getting your best argument shot down in court and having to explain that to your client.
Clients may make some interesting decisions, too, and it may not reflect what you would do, or what a judge would do. But if you’ve educated them, helped them explore the options and they made the choices, those decisions are theirs and it’s all good.
Sometimes I even learn a new trick or two from my clients.
Mediation is a great career choice.
A mediation career makes it possible to actually achieve a work/the rest of your life balance. It leaves you with more energy and feeling more positive at the end of the day. And you get to help people too. Who can’t get behind that?
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