Mediators are hard-working, empathetic and neutral third parties who oversee an essential legal process - mediation.
A mediator plays a vital role in the most difficult or emotionally-driven situations. They work with families or individuals to find the best solution that suits all involved.
What is a mediator?
A mediator is a third party who helps to resolve conflicts through negotiation and compromise. Mediation is often used for financial disputes, legal proceedings and child custody issues. A mediator is an unbiased and neutral invigilator over proceedings who does not take sides with either party.
Mediators provide mediation for a range of issues, including:
- Child custody arrangements in divorce proceedings.
- Companies who don’t want the case to go to court.
- Crime resolution.
- Employment disagreements.
- Financial disputes.
- Neighbour disputes.
- Personal relationship disputes.
- Public interest issues.
- Strike action regarding industrial matters.
Family or personal issues may need a mediator with family and counselling experience. As a professional mediator, you’ll be the person who provides equal opportunity for the people involved in an argument to speak without being interrupted.
A mediator has a wide range of responsibilities. These responsibilities may change depending on where you work and which type of mediation you specialise in.
The key responsibilities for mediation jobs are:
- Arrange and facilitate mediation sessions, maintaining the confidentiality of all parties.
- Assess the effectiveness of the mediation and communicate your professional judgement to all parties.
- Clearly explain the mediation process and ensure that all parties have an equal opportunity to participate.
- Communicate with parties as needed following the completion of the mediation.
- Hold initial meetings with all parties to discuss the issues and conduct the necessary research.
- Listen attentively to all parties and identify their individual goals for the mediation.
- Obtain written consent from all participants to confirm their willingness to engage in the process.
- Put any final agreements in writing and ensure that all parties understand their implications.
- Take accurate and unbiased notes during sessions to document any remaining issues, and any outcomes reached.
These tasks also need to be completed professionally within a code of practice. If you work as a freelance mediator, in addition to these responsibilities, you will also have to build and manage your reputation and maintain a good rapport with potential clients.
The salary you can earn as a mediator depends on several factors. Those working in London will typically earn more than those in other areas. The company you work for and the type of mediation you specialise in may affect your earning potential.
An accredited mediator salary is generally between £19,000 and £35,000. To gain experience, you can work for a personal dispute service to develop skills and a portfolio of work. After a few years, you may be able to charge between £20 and £35 per person per session for a charitable organisation, but this can rise to range from £75 and £150 for specialist meetings like family law. Mediators specialising in legal or arbitration accreditation often command higher service fees, ranging from £350 to £500 per day.
The amount of money you can earn as a mediator can vary depending on whether you work part-time or full-time, the type of mediation services you offer, and your level of expertise. For example, you may work for a charitable organisation to mediate personal disputes, or you may be a barrister or solicitor who charges high fees to prevent disruptions caused by strikes. As a self-employed mediator, you can set your fees, decide how many cases you take, and control your workload.
A degree is not a requirement for this role but is recommended. Employers have been known to hire graduates with an undergraduate degree, although a foundation degree will also be accepted.
The best subjects to study at university are:
- Accounting degrees
- Counselling degrees
- Education degrees
- Finance degrees
- Human resources degrees
- Law degrees
- Psychology degrees
- Public services degrees
- Social science degrees
- Social work degrees
All degrees or mediation qualifications need to be accredited by the Civil Mediation Council (CMC).
Training and development
Training and development is essential for this role. Your employer will likely provide you with advanced mediator training courses to enhance your skills, although you may need to source some mediator courses of your own - especially if you are self-employed.
Some mediation requires mediators to have specific qualifications in certain areas. For example, those who wish to focus on family mediation will need to attend accredited mediation courses by the Family Mediation Council (FMC) and will need to register with them as well.
Registration with industry organisations is a very good way to enhance your development. The CMC, FMC and other organisations, such as The College of Mediators (CM), have several training courses, mediation training, networking events and lectures. These organisations will also support those seeking to expand their knowledge in special educational needs and disabilities (SEND) and mediation courses.
As mediation often takes place in a regulated industry, you may be required to complete a continuing professional development (CPD). This is not necessarily a professional requirement but may be an industry requirement and will be dictated by your employer. Any professional organisation you register with will provide CPD support.
After completing initial accredited training, you will be supervised by an experienced mediator. You can also sit in with licensed mediators to build experience, but this will depend on their industry. Many mediators do not allow others to sit in on confidential matters.
A mediator needs several key skills to be successful in their role. A mediator should be impartial at all times and focus on the facts of the case without letting their emotions come into play.
The key skills required for this role are:
- A strong understanding of the importance of confidentiality.
- An open-minded, non-judgmental approach.
- Conflict management skills.
- Excellent organisational skills.
- Excellent planning skills.
- Exceptional communication skills.
- Strong negotiation skills.
- The ability to be impartial and focus on the facts of a case without personal bias.
- The ability to build trust and establish relationships.
- The ability to connect with people from diverse backgrounds.
- The ability to work alone.
- The ability to work well as part of a team with colleagues and partners.
- The capacity to encourage, motivate, and support individuals during mediation.
These skills can be further enhanced through training and development.
Work and life experience are critical for this role but not necessarily a requirement. Most employers would prefer you to have some experience before working as a mediator; however, it does not need to be mediator experience.
Many employers prefer industry knowledge above all else. For instance, if you have worked as an accountant or as a financial adviser before, then you will have enough experience of the finance industry to be able to work as a financial mediator.
It is possible to find paid or voluntary work occasionally for certain organisations. For instance, organisations such as the Citizens Advice Bureau and the National Association of Child Contact Centres (NACCC) will provide you with invaluable work experience and placement opportunities.
Progression as a mediator will depend on your own career goals. Mediators often move into other areas of mediation and carve a new path for themselves. For instance, those who have specialised in legal mediation may decide to try their hand at financial mediation once they have the required qualifications.
You may also decide to move into a management role. Some companies may have teams of mediators that they have working for them at any one time, so you can look into the possibilities of managing a team of mediators and carrying out specific training for them where needed.
Another option is to become self-employed and choose the cases you want to work or to expand the business into a specialist area. There isn’t always a direct route into self-employment after accreditation. Still, you can find work within an organisation or sector that uses trained mediators to set up your practice. Training providers also hold a directory of mediatory where you can find cases through promoting your experience and skills.
-  Family mediator — NationalCareers.Service.GoV.uk.co.uk Retrieved 6 January 2023.