The court systems are indispensable for delivering justice and resolving disputes. However, not all civil cases must be resolved through a trial. For that matter, not all disputes must be submitted as official complaints to the court.
Many disputes are resolvable through less confrontational means—mediation. If you are an excellent communicator who is able to see both sides of an issue, then a career as a professional mediator may be right for you.
What do mediators do?
Mediators act as neutral third parties in a dispute. They facilitate discussions between the opposing parties. They may ask questions for the parties to consider and provide direction for the discussion. Mediators help guide the opposing parties toward a mutually agreeable solution for the dispute.
What don’t mediators do?
Although mediators can play a central role in resolving disputes, they do not hold decision-making authority. Both sides in the dispute must mutually agree on a solution. The mediator cannot force either side to accept a particular resolution.
If a resolution is not forthcoming, the dispute may need to be resolved in court. In addition, mediators are not responsible for ensuring that the terms of the resolution are carried out. However, the mediation agreement is a legally binding contract. If either party violates its terms, the other party may sue for breach of contract. The case may then be taken to court.
What types of cases do mediators work on?
Nearly any type of case that could be taken to a civil court system may be addressed through mediation instead. Mediators can work on a variety of non-criminal cases, including disputes pertaining to child custody and visitation, divorce, employment, businesses and labor unions.
Mediators may also work on disputes between neighbors, landlords and tenants, family members and business partners. In some jurisdictions, certain types of disputes are required to be heard in mediation before going to court, such as neighbor disputes and child custody cases.
Do I have what it takes to be an effective mediator?
You may be better prepared to pursue this career by earning an advanced degree in legal studies. You will gain a thorough understanding of crucial concepts like legal research and legal consulting. In addition to your formal education, it is helpful to have the following characteristics and skills:
- Communication: Mediators must be excellent communicators who are capable of interacting effectively with people from a diverse range of cultural, educational and socioeconomic backgrounds
- Objectivity: Mediators must avoid the appearance of favoring one particular side in a dispute, and instead must remain objective at all times
- Empathy: Some disputes can be quite complicated, and it’s helpful for mediators to develop a keen understanding of the positions and feelings of each party
- Problem solving: Effective mediators are creative problem solvers who can propose compromises that solve the dispute
Students who are passionate about criminal justice and legal studies can find a supportive and friendly learning community at Grand Canyon University. If you dream of pursuing a career as a professional mediator, consider applying to our Master of Science in Criminal Justice with an Emphasis in Legal Studies degree program. It provides a comprehensive survey of legal research, legal communication, best practices in consulting and ethical decision-making in the field. To learn more, click the Request More Information Button on this page of visit the College of Humanities and Social Sciences.
The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author’s and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Grand Canyon University.