People assume that all mediators are the same and that each mediator can do what another one does, but in fact there can be huge differences in terms of experience, expertise, sensitivity, style, approach, knowledge, credentials, etc. As a result, there can be a significant difference in the quality of mediation services you receive and whether your mediation will be a successful one.
For starters, not all mediators are attorneys, and not all attorney mediators are experienced family law attorneys. This is important if you want someone who has the ability to provide you with credible and accurate legal information about your legal rights/obligations/options.
Spend the time to find a mediator whose style works for you — one who has the sensitivity and experience to handle your dispute in an appropriate manner. Ideally, you will find someone who has the ability to continually adjust and readjust the tone of the mediation depending on the temperament of each person throughout the mediation process. The mediator should be able to reduce the stress that you are both experiencing, which often results from a lack of coordination and organization of the issues. An effective mediator can direct the order in which the issues are discussed and determine what information is needed from each person and how to get it. This is why I strongly urge people to interview mediators (preferably, the interview should be done together) to find the right one who meets your needs. When you find the right one, listen to your gut…you will know and feel which mediator is “the right one.”
The bottom line is that not all mediators are created equal. It’s extremely important to find someone with whom you feel comfortable and who can help move the process along by helping to keep the conversation focused and productive.