What Makes a Successful Mediator and Why I Love Mediating
by John K. Miles, Jr., Esq.
Years ago when I practiced law, I worked for a client in the construction industry. The company required claims to be mediated – a fairly new concept at time. When one of their products turned out defective, I often found myself sitting around a table at mediation. Former Georgia Attorney General, Mike Bowers, was the mediator on a number of these cases. After we got to know each other, at one point he suggested that I would be a good mediator. Mike meant it as a compliment but I was offended. I was a litigator. Mediation was for those who couldn’t make it in the courtroom.
I did have a great deal of respect for Mike, so I couldn’t dismiss his suggestion entirely. After thinking it over, I asked why he thought I’d be a good mediator. He said I had the right personality. He explained how successful mediators need to be equal parts people pleaser and closer. He added, “One minute, you have to tell someone they are crazy as hell and the next, be willing to jump up and get them a cup of coffee.”
Over the years I’ve come to realize the wisdom in Mike’s observation. Attorneys do select a mediator based on the mediator’s ability to get a case settled but that mediator also has to be someone the attorney wants to spend the day with. There aren’t many personalities who share this unique blend of characteristics.
I enjoyed success as a litigator but I love mediating. The variety of cases always ensures you are learning new things. I’ve learned how highways and bridges are constructed, the complexities of the human brain and how to take a good idea and build it into a multimillion-dollar company. Each day, I get to work with fascinating people. I’ve mediated with celebrities, politicians, sports stars and leaders of industry. I’ve even mediated cases for two episodes of reality television.
When practicing law, I loved calendar calls. Going to the courthouse gave me the opportunity to visit with my colleagues. At Miles we have seven to ten cases mediating every day. It’s a pleasure to catch up with old friends in the legal industry and make new ones.
How fortunate for me that I was able to turn a personality disorder – people pleasing — into a career. Every morning I go to work, I count my blessings making a living doing what I love.
John Miles is the founder of Miles Mediation & Arbitration Services. He has mediated over 2,000 cases and continues to mediate full-time, handling disputes in areas of personal injury, premises liability, insurance, construction, estates, fiduciary, contracts, commercial, business, employment, and subrogation. For more information about John or to schedule a mediation with him, click here.