William Aylmer – On establishing himself as a Mediator11 Jul 2011
CEDR Solve Irish Panel Forum
Matheson Ormsby Prentice, Thursday 7 July 2011
As individual professional service providers, we are responsible for our own marketing, from generating leads through to ensuring good mediation outcomes for our clients. As individuals offering a professional service, every professional interaction we have may therefore be approached with a view to marketing ourselves as mediators.
As a solicitor, it may take a number of retainers over time to develop a solicitor/client relationship in which the client sees the solicitor as a trusted adviser. A mediator must work to achieve “trusted mediator” status from the first contact with the parties or their advisers, sometimes even before an appointment is confirmed.
This leads me to my first point.
When marketing myself as a mediator, I try to remember what I look for when advising my own clients on mediator appointments. Trust is an essential ingredient for me. I’m looking for someone to provide a professional service at a very high level. I need to believe this is a mediator I would probably recommend for appointment again, even before I know their abilities as a mediator.
Their professional track record before they were accredited as a mediator is therefore very important. I need them to have demonstrated, not merely asserted that they have something to offer as a mediator and that they are someone in whom I can place absolute trust. Initial work to market yourself as a mediator where relationships of trust have already been established may therefore produce the best results.
That takes me to my next point.
While a person’s experience and expertise as a mediator is of secondary importance to trust, past experience is clearly important and a person’s mediation CV will reflect this. The opportunity to assist with experienced mediators when I was accredited was critically important for my initial development as a mediator. It showed me what can be achieved in the process and gave me a belief in my own ability. I cannot overstate the value of assistantships at or shortly after accreditation. It is an investment of time and money that has been more than justified for me.
So, let me talk about…
For me, trying to build a practice as a mediator is not so much a selling exercise or trying to push what I’ve got; it’s about getting hired or trying to work out how to convince contacts and/or their clients to put their trust in me. So when I encounter an opportunity to get hired, I do the following:
As a practising solicitor, I consider myself as well, if not better placed than mediators from other professional backgrounds to generate leads for appointment. Being a practising solicitor is certainly not a disadvantage in my experience.
It may sound obvious but once accredited and offering yourself as a mediator, you must let colleagues and contacts know, firstly that you are accredited and second that you are available for and requesting appointments. Appointments won’t come just because you are accredited.
Everyone will have a different way of communicating these messages but the following can’t be overlooked:-
The key point is to be proactive in communicating your service offering. Don’t assume that your colleagues know what you do.
An important consideration that I would like to talk about now is…
You can’t expect to be appointed on every occasion you are nominated but being considered for appointment in itself represents the high degree of trust and confidence in which you are held by at least one of the parties in a dispute. Being nominated is certainly an important step and creates a valuable opportunity, but there may be other actions you can take to increase your prospects for appointment.
All of these actions will serve to help the contact prefer you over other nominees and be more inclined to push you for the appointment.
Lastly, I would like to mention a key element in establishing yourself as a mediator.
Of course, not every mediation will conclude with resolution but any that don’t must not fail as a consequence of any act or omission on the mediator’s part. The mediation outcome will have been a good one if:-
Don’t be backward in coming forward. Tell everyone you’re a mediator and look for appointments. Promote the concept and practice of mediation at every opportunity. Work to increase the size of the mediation cake. Help clients avoid the stress, expense and potential futility of protracted commercial litigation.
Thank you for allowing me to share these thoughts and please don’t hesitate to ask if you would like a copy of my note or if you think I can help you in any other way to develop your practice.
7 July 2011
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