Women make up an even smaller portion of the mediation community than they do the legal community.
In the Eastern District of Missouri, the federal court boasts of 110 approved mediators and of that total, 17 are female (15% of total).
Just for purposes of comparison, BAMSL’s membership is 64% male and 36% female.
FINRA operates a huge ADR program nationally and 29% of the overall roster is female.
On the national level, 29% of Judges nationally are female and 25% of law firm equity partners are women.
Missouri Women In Mediation
There are no official stats on what percentage of Missouri federal court cases go to those 17 females, but an educated guess is that less than 15% since most female mediators center their practices on family, labor, consumer, and smaller commercial claims.
Meanwhile, male mediators dominate construction, intellectual property and complex commercial matters.
Why are the numbers of female mediators so low? There is no giant conspiracy against those 17 female mediators; they are not at all incompetent or lacking in talent.
In that same vein, the 93 male mediators are not all superstars. So, why are the gals lagging behind?
What to Look For In A (Female) Mediator
Selecting a mediator is a discretionary decision and the personal traits of the mediator, albeit in a professional setting, play a big role in the selection.
I say personal because lawyers want a mediator to be able to relate to the story of the dispute, relate to the clients and even to the lawyers themselves.
Sensitive information will be shared with the mediator, so you want the mediator to be able to respond in kind, as well as sell your story and its associated dollars to your opponent.
Moreover, lawyers are paying the mediator a lot of money to make this sales pitch. This all results in conservative choices: Go with the guy you know… and this is usually a guy.
Advantages Of A Female Mediator
Let me make a pitch for moving into unknown territory and choosing a female mediator. The women on the federal court list have completed 32 hours of court-approved mediator training; observed as a non-participant at least two mediations; agreed to serve for reduced or no compensation on a mediation; and complete four more hours of ADR training every two years. (The Court hosts a terrific, in-depth training for its mediators and most mediators on the list do attend).
In Missouri, most have 20+ years of experience as a lawyer and 5+ years of experience as a mediator. At least nine are current/former partners in law firms; one is a law professor.
They have experience practicing on both the plaintiffs and defendants’ sides. At least four are former judges. At least one, (me) is recognized as a Distinguished Neutral with NADN having completed 200+ mediations.
Know Your Audience
So, the next time you have a federal court case referred to mediation, go out on a limb and suggest a female mediator to your opponent.
She will be an excellent choice if the plaintiff or defendant is a woman; or if not a direct party, an influential player.
Female mediators operate well in cases involving sexual misconduct, education or family issues; or a dispute involving a female-dominated business.
If I had a case with Mary Kay Cosmetics as a party, I would sure as heck consider female mediators.
But go beyond the obvious, and try her for a meaty IP dispute or a big multi-party case.
You may be surprised at how well she will relate to your clients, her quick take on the law and ultimately her success in getting the case settled.
Book a free consultation with Kim L. Kirn to see if she is the right mediator for you.