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That mediation is usually a quicker, more efficient, and cost-effective alternative to litigation is widely accepted by lawyers. But what many lawyers may not know is that the skills of mediators – especially in Missouri – can vary to a significant degree.

So, if you’re considering recommending mediation to a client but have little or no experience with mediation, you may want to take the following into consideration before making a recommendation:

Mediator Standards in Missouri Are Unclear

The state of Missouri does not license the mediation profession, which means no state-mandated requirements exist for experience, educational background and specialized training for mediators working in the state.

This means mediators can legally have any sort of background and education. One exception:  mediators who work with the courts in specific areas of the law such as domestic matters, must meet certain training requirements as set forth by the Missouri Supreme Court.

Consider a Mediator’s Training and Experience

The Missouri Supreme Court’s requirements regarding training for mediators are not exactly steep. Mediators are required to complete 16 hours of formal training in mediation, with the exact courses unspecified and they need not be a lawyer.

So, lawyers should investigate a mediator’s training, experience and background before recommending a specific mediator to a client. First, you want a lawyer.  Second, you want a mediator who has handled at least 100 cases and who is a deal maker.  To me, this is more important than someone with a specific subject-matter expertise.  Lawyers are a quick study; they can grasp the legal issues but the interpersonal skills necessary to put a deal together are super important.

Ask your prospective mediator how many cases she or he has mediated, and how many reached a resolution in mediation. While there is no clear percentage of success you should require, a mediator should be reaching resolution in at least a solid majority of cases he or she has mediated.

Mediator Personality Counts

Finally, consider how compatible the mediator will be with the client. It’s no secret that regardless of qualifications or intent, some people will simply not mesh well with others for reasons of personality, communication style or other traits. Just as in other areas of life, not every mediator is a perfect fit for every client.

Seek an Experienced Advisor

Working with the right mediator for each situation and client can be a key to the success of a mediation, to avoiding costly litigation and reaching an acceptable settlement to a dispute.

KIM L. KIRN has successfully mediated more than 400 disputes and may be the mediator for your case or can recommend a mediator who may work well with your client and the dispute you are working to resolve. Contact Kim today for a complimentary consultation.