Why Attorneys Should Complete Mediator Training

by Wendy Williamson, Esq.

I have trained hundreds of lawyers and non-lawyers in civil mediation and participants frequently tell me that they wish they had trained earlier. I encourage you to complete mediator training sooner rather than later for the following reasons:

  1. Practice Enhancement. Any lawyer who represents clients uses negotiating skills in his or her practice. Negotiating skills are like muscles that need training and conditioning. Mediator training is like the P90X for negotiating skills. P90X is an exercise program based upon “Muscle Confusion.” Muscle confusion is the idea that by constantly changing workouts you “confuse” your muscles and thereby increase stimulation and growth. Mediator training uses updated research, hands-on exercises and role plays to exercise different techniques and angles of negotiating skills which will help an attorney find weaknesses, develop additional strengths, open perspectives and grow creativity. Whether you end up in the mediator’s seat or the attorney’s seat, lessons learned through mediator training will enhance your practice.
  1. Client Preparation and Management. My law school education (long ago) was devoted to preparing cases and applying law and precedent. It took years of trial and error to learn how to manage and prepare my clients, which is a whole other skillset. In mediator training, attorneys study how people think and make decisions, how to effectively be agents of reality, how to respectfully deal with emotions and expectations, how to manage their own emotions and how to practice active listening to avoid misunderstandings and develop trust and critical knowledge. In my practice as a mediator, one of the greatest impediments to a healthy and expeditious resolution of a case is a client’s unrealistic expectations of the outcome. The skills honed and practiced in mediator training will help attorneys from the first to the final meetings with their clients. Poorly prepared or unrealistic clients are a predictable source of criticism, disparagement and complaints for attorneys and the legal system when clients believe their attorney or the legal system failed them.
  1. Continuing Education Goldmine. Upon completion of the five-day mediator training and practicum, an attorney receives 28 hours in Continuing Legal Education credit including 3 hours for Ethics and 3 hours of Professionalism. An attorney will be covered for more than two years in CLEs.
  1. Life Management. If you are like me, I find myself having more difficult conversations in my daily life outside of my legal practice. Whether I am dealing with a service provider, my community or government or my family, conflict and negotiation occur with frequency. For example, when I engage with a medical provider or insurance company about an outstanding bill, I find myself practicing de-escalation and active listening instead of screaming [which I would more naturally do]. Have you had a discussion about national politics or the Affordable Care Act lately? Whether we are in parent-teacher conferences, at our bank or dealing with co-workers, we have an increasing need to manage conversations wisely and productively. Mediation training is an invaluable life skill.

I hope I have the privilege to train you in the life skills of negotiation and mediation. Please join a class by clicking here to sign up.