I’ve been thinking a lot about expanding my practice to include mediation services. You might say I’ve been meditating on mediating. I’m trying to follow my own advice about working in one’s “authentic niche.”
Part of my motivation is that while enjoy the work I do now, I’ve been hungry for a new challenge. I took some time and asked myself what I enjoy doing and what I already do for free. Over the past several years, I’ve been helping resolve a lot of conflicts before they had a chance to really heat up, and plenty of work with people after they got hot, but before the explosion. I’m really pretty good at it.
I reviewed what I enjoyed in law school. My favorite class was a semester-long “negotiation” workshop in my last semester. The class was based on the book Getting to Yes by Roger Fisher, William Ury, and Bruce Patton. I did very well in that class and have been using the interest-based negotiation strategies almost every day in my business and personal life. For those of you who are not familiar with this book, get it. Get it now. It will change your life by showing you how to get out of haggle mode and seek true win-win solutions in everything you do. Anyway, this book is the bible of mediation because the goal of mediation is helping people find win-win solutions to conflicts and other negotiations.
So far, so good. I think I would enjoy mediation work, and be good at it. A general knowledge of ADR and my own experience with clients wanting to mediate rather than litigate, followed by some specific research into the mediation industry growth made me confident that I could do well. Finally, I’m always confident that I can find a unique approach to any practice area and communicate that distinctive approach well enough to attract the clients I want.
What’s next? Research.
I started looking into what it takes to offer and provide mediation services. I was a little surprised to find that anyone can just say they are a mediator without any licensing or other credentials. There are probably several self-trained problem-solving mediators out there doing a wonderful job of helping people and making comfortable livings. I’m not that confident, or at least I’m not that cocky. I want to learn a little from experienced people before just diving in on my own. That means some training.
My research suggested that the bare minimum mediation training is a 40-hour certification course. My state Bar Association offered one in January and I was all set to take it as a CLE, but when I called the course was full. I was very disappointed because the next course offering wasn’t until April.
This week I’m investing the entire week in 5 full days of mediation certification training offered by the same firm that taught the course for the Bar Association. Yes, it’s 40+ hours of CLE credit too, which is nice because it covers me for almost 3 years. I’m sure I’ll learn a lot of new approaches and I’ll review the law school negotiation class materials. I re-read Getting To Yes before the class and found those old class notes. I ordered a few books on creating a mediation practice. I’ll spend some time this week meditating on how I can make this practice my own. How can I put my own spin and unique personality on what I want to do? I’m generating ideas. I’m sharing some of those ideas with the people in the class. I’ll share some of those ideas with you soon. Then, I’ll give those ideas a try, because even the most sophisticated guided missiles can’t make course corrections until they are in flight.
I’m sure I can’t be the only one out there considering or already offering mediation services as part of their practice.
For those of you in the niche, what should I consider?
For the others meditating on mediating, what would you like me to ask or discover that would inform your thoughts?
What books should I read?
Who should I follow or friend?
What technology should I use?
Post your advice and questions below. I’ll have an updated post next week and be tweeting when I can during the training.