If you are a lawyer you probably have a few “favourite” mediators – chosen because you like their approach. What do you like about them? What qualities are important to you? In my legal practice I’ve been appointing mediators for years now, and I have my favourites too. One of the reasons I became a mediator is because, by observing many mediators in action – good, bad and indifferent - I developed a clear understanding of what skills I expect them to demonstrate.
In no particular order, a good mediator needs to be: honest and honourable, reliable, open, intelligent, adaptable, persistent, creative, likeable, patient, assertive, energetic, wise – I could go on. He or she needs to understand at an intuitive level the dynamics of a negotiating process; to be able to read people well; to know when to speak and when to shut up; to have a mastery of the anatomy of the dispute, both legal, commercial and emotional. Body language needs to reflect all of these qualities, or they may look contrived. He or she needs to be interested and willing to listen and observe, and then act on the information gleaned.
I believe the personal qualities of a mediator are more important than particular areas of specialism. Consequently I am comfortable mediating most kinds of legal dispute. By the time the parties find themselves at mediation the issues have generally crystallised sufficiently for an experienced and competent person to understand them, regardless of subject-matter. But, much more importantly, mediations are not about issues, they are about interests. In almost every mediation, the sooner the disputants stop talking about the issues and start talking about their real interests, the sooner we all get to go home.
My current settlement rate is over 90%. I do not like failed mediations; they ruin my day. I try my very best to secure settlement on the day, or at the very least an agreed pathway to settlement. But I'm not a magician. When a mediation fails, it may be because it was never realistically going to settle in the first place - for whatever reason there was insufficient congruity of interest. Or it may be because the mediator failed to identify and draw out the mutual interest. The real art of mediation lies in excavating beneath a "position" and discovering a need or a want. Needs and wants are the engine and wheels of every successful negotiation.
I am happy to accept mediations both throughout the United Kingdom and abroad. I accept appointments to mediate most disputes including:
• Commercial and contract
• Land and property
• Construction and engineering
• Professional negligence
• Personal injury
• Clinical negligence
• Marriage and relationship breakdown: custody and property
• Employment claims and workplace disputes
• Community, neighbour and boundary disputes
• Consumer claims
I am a Member of the Civil Mediation Council. I subscribe to the European Code of Conduct for Mediators. I carry professional indemnity insurance, details available on request.
I always ask for feedback on my performance as a mediator; it helps my professional development and keeps me on my toes. For details of recent feedback from disputants, click here.
If you would like an informal chat about a possible appointment, give me a call or drop me an email.