Wednesday, August 12, 2009

The Mediator who isn't an Attorney

I was reflecting this morning about some of the conferences and professional meetings I have attended in the last year. In almost all instances--except those that are for attorneys only--there is a debate about mediators who don't have a law degree. The debate centers on how mediators should identify themselves.

In one of the professional organizations that I belong to, some members will introduce themselves as "non-attorney mediators." Others in that same organization express outrage at such a description.

I can't think of another profession that describes its members by what they are not: "Hello, I'm a non-doctor plumber." Or a "non-engineer architect."

There is no question that mediation, and mediators, derive a great deal of work from and through the legal system. Having judicial appointments is a good way to obtain cases. Having professional relationships with attorneys is a good source for business. The courthouse is a natural place for disputes and opportunities for resolving disputes.

But should people be identified as "non-attorney mediators?" What are the pros and cons of such a label? I'd be interested in your thoughts.