What the Heck Do Mediators Do Anyway?

When all else fails: Conflict Resolution Technique #100

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What is a Mediator?:

Heavy court caseloads and rising legal costs have prompted many people to settle their legal disputes outside the courtroom through a process known as alternative dispute resolution (ADR). Mediators, also known as arbitrators and conciliators, guide the ADR process and help resolve conflicts between disputing parties.

Job Duties of Mediators:

Mediators facilitate negotiation and settlement between disputing parties by providing direction and encouragement, working collaboratively with the parties and finding creative ways to reach a mutual solution. Specific duties vary widely depending upon practice setting but may include facilitating discussion and controlling the direction of negotiations; preparing court reports, social case histories, correspondence and other documents; implementing legislative enactments and court rules relating to a case; and keeping abreast of current trends, rules and legislation.


Although many mediators are lawyers and former judges, non-lawyers from all backgrounds are entering the profession. To date, no formal licensing or certification process exists in the U.S. for mediators. Training for mediators is available through independent mediation programs, national and local mediation membership organizations, and postsecondary schools, according to the U.S. Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics. Colleges and universities in the United States are beginning to offer advanced degrees in dispute resolution and conflict management.


Superior communication, negotiation, problem-solving, analytical and conflict resolution skills are essential. Mediators must have the ability to maintain confidences, exercise sound judgment and discretion, work collaboratively with others and foster effective working relationships with clients, courts, judicial staff, community agencies and the general public. In addition to a high level of competence, successful mediators are intuitive and able to help meet their clients’ emotional needs. Neutrality, honesty, creativity and patience are also crucial to the mediator’s role.


According to the U.S. Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics, earnings for mediators range from $28,090 to $102,202 per year with median annual wages estimated at $49,490. Hourly rates range from a low of $13.50 to a high of $49.05 with a median hourly wage estimated at $23.80. Most mediators are employed by the state and local government, schools and universities, legal service providers, insurance carriers and corporations.

Job Outlook:

As individuals and businesses seek to avoid the delays, publicity and high costs inherent in litigation, alternative dispute resolution is becoming an increasingly popular alternative to lawsuits. As a result, mediators are expected to experience above average growth in employment.

Additional Resources:

The American Arbitration Association and the American Bar Association Section for Dispute Resolution provide a wealth of information relating to the dispute resolution field.

Mediate.com maintains a list of international, national and state conflict resolution organizations.

Posted by Career Development Center (careerdevelopmentctr@pacificu.edu) on Feb 5, 2013 at 4:08 PM

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