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Alternative dispute resolution is an increasingly popular method for resolving conflict and many organizations provide certification in certain aspects of the practice.
For an attorney looking to branch out into mediation, the variety of training programs available can be confusing. It's not clear what training programs are useful and what kind of certification is necessary to call yourself a mediator.
Keep in mind that not all of those courses are for lawyers since a law degree is not a prerequisite for mediation. With all the options available, it may be that the right course to take for mediation certification is actually: none.
So far, only Florida has specific certification requirements and then only for certain kinds of mediators. That means those courses aren't a prerequisite to advertising yourself as a mediator.
But it's still important to be qualified before you provide a service to clients.
The first step is to figure out what kind of mediation services you want to provide.
There are several different models of mediation and also certain fields where mediation is best suited. Often mediation services can coincide with an existing practice. A divorce attorney offering marital and family mediation is a natural choice. So is a business attorney offering employment dispute resolution.
The next step is to examine the training options in your area.
Some state courts require court mediators to enroll in specific training courses. State governments may also maintain lists of certified mediators with regulations on the meaning of 'certified.' Getting on those lists can be good for business so it's important to see what is required.
Mediation is a hands-on process, not unlike the practice of law.
One of the most important parts of training will be getting actual experience mediating. Make sure any program you enroll in will allow you to mediate conflicts at some point during training.
If you're thinking of transitioning to alternative dispute resolution or simply adding it to an existing practice, don't forget to advertise. Make sure your website and marketing show all the services you can provide.