How to Choose a Mediator
There is currently no legislation in Alberta governing mediators and the field of mediation is unregulated. This means that there exists a range of mediators from those with little to no formal mediation training to those with extensive training and expertise. As such, there are four main considerations when choosing a mediator:
As there are no minimum credentials that must be held by a mediator, it falls to the parties to question potential mediators about their training. As well as their foundational training, ask your mediator about his or her ongoing training and assess how current they are with your type of dispute.
While the field of mediation is unregulated, the ADR Institute of Canada (ADRIC) provides mediators with two internationally recognized practice designations, Chartered Mediator (C.Med) and Qualified Mediator (Q.Med). These designations assist the public to choose a mediator who is practising at a specific level and whose qualifications have been reviewed for enhanced quality assurance. Q.Meds are considered to be at an intermediate level and must have a minimum of 80 hours training from a recognized institution and some mediation experience. The designation of C.Med is ADRIC’s highest designation and is granted to highly experienced mediators who have passed a rigorous assessment. CMeds often have one or two areas of specialization. All practitioners holding an ADRIC designation are required to be engaged in ongoing practice and training, carry a minimum of $1 million insurance coverage and adhere to their Codes of Ethics and Conduct. Mediators come from a variety of backgrounds and, as such, may hold other professional designations (i.e. accountants, psychologists, engineers, lawyers, human resources, social workers, etc.) and will be governed by their individual professional organizations as well.
In Alberta, the C.Med and Q.Med designations are managed through the regional affiliate, the ADR Institute of Alberta (ADRIA) which maintains a Directory of ADR Practitioners in Alberta.
Take the time to interview potential mediators to ensure that they have experience with your type of dispute and the particular complexities involved. Be wary of mediators who state they can handle any type of dispute. When asked, mediators should be able to provide you with some examples of past cases that can speak to their experience in this area and their experience handling the level of complexity required. Your potential mediator should be able to explain the process he or she will use and what to expect from the mediation. While a mediator should not provide legal or professional advice, they should be able to demonstrate a strong working knowledge of the area of your dispute. They should also be able to tell you how many cases they have handled, the complexity of the cases and whether they worked as part of a mediation team or on their own.
Having a mediator that understands the parties’ specific dispute can be critical. Potential mediators should be able to outline any additional training they have that is relevant to the presenting dispute. Knowledge and training in family mediation, for example, can be obtained through additional certificate programs. Industry knowledge, such as oil and gas or engineering, is necessary when mediating disputes in those areas just as legal knowledge and experience, such as in real estate or contract law, reflects a mediators specialized knowledge for such disputes.
When interviewing potential mediators, always inquire about the costs and what is included. There are some organizations/programs that offer a flat rate fee. Find out what is included in that rate and be aware of any additional costs you may incur. Most mediators charge an hourly fee. When mediators state that they charge an hourly rate, parties should inquire about:
How to Find a Mediator
To find a mediator, using a directory is helpful as it will have standards of experience and training that must be met.
The ADR Institute of Alberta has a comprehensive directory of in ADR practitioners in Alberta listed by Areas of Practice, Regions of Practice, ADRIC Designations, and ADR Services.
The Alberta Family Mediation Society has a directory of Family Mediators practising in Alberta.
Asking friends, co-workers and professionals who have worked with mediators who they would recommend is also a good place to start. Other professionals such as lawyers, counsellors, accountants or financial planners will often be able to recommend potential mediators.
In the end, the choice of mediator is in the hands of the parties and must be agreed to by all parties. If, at any time, you feel uneasy with the information (or lack of) you are receiving, if the mediator is unable to explain their process or answer your questions, continue to interview other potential mediators. If you experience discomfort with the mediator’s manner or personality, choose someone else. Any concerns you have prior to hiring a mediator will likely arise during the mediation process.
Sample Interview Questions
Sample Interview Questions
- What experience do you have mediating in this area?
- What experience do you have handling the level of complexity required?
- What training do you have? Is it from a recognized institution?
- What process will you be using? What will it look like?
- Do you have an Agreement to Mediate? Can you give me a copy to read in advance?
- Please tell me about your fees and any additional costs, including any retainers that may be required.
- Do you have a National Designation, such as Qualified Mediator (Q.Med) or Chartered Mediator (C.Med) or some other designation with a rigorous assessment to determine competency?
- Are you a member of an organization that supports high standards in ADR, has a code of ethics and provides a complaints resolution process?