Utilizing Single Mediator vs. Mediation Team

by
Edward Howden

Although a single mediator may function effectively in many situations, there are advantages to having a team of two or more mediators. In a team effort there must be clear understandings as to the roles of the respective members. My recommended modus operandi is as follows:

  1. One person should be lead mediator. This individual will conduct all mediation sessions except where s/he elects to delegate some of this function to an associate mediator. At any give time management of a session must remain with one person, in terms of what is said to the parties. If another member of the mediation team has an idea or question which s/he thinks should be considered while the session is in progress, this should be conveyed by a note or otherwise in a short recess to the lead mediator, not offered openly in the session.

  2. An associate mediator can be of immense help throughout the entire mediation process. His or her perceptions and insights into what is happening with one or another party; ideas as to resolution options; tactical suggestions; and sharing in participation in caucuses can be invaluable. Likewise a continuing feedback to and consultation with the team head.

  3. An associate should have the absolutely vital responsibility of note taking, with special reference to points of achieved consensus and other key matters. It is very difficult for a single mediator to perform this function with facility while attending sensitively to conduct of a session.

  4. The lead mediator assumes full responsibility for decisions as to how the team will proceed. Such decisions will be made ordinarily only after ample joint consultation within the team.


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by Conflict Management Initiatives and the Conflict Information Consortium at the University of Colorado