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Finding an Appropriate Forum and Mediator(s)

The local district court is a good starting source for mediation referral. Some state and local (attorney) bar associations also offer mediation programs. The non-profit National Association for Community Mediation is comprised of member community organizations across the nation that provide local mediators and forums for the resolution of local disputes. Often, the mediators may belong to such entities as the Better Business Bureau or local chambers of commerce, etc. and are quite familiar with the issues presented for resolution.

If the dispute involves more national interests or parties, individuals should consult one of the more established mediation providers, such as the American Arbitration Association (AAA) (which also handles mediations and supplies mediators). Most of these providers will be able to supply individuals with a list of mediators, a set of rules for the mediation, and a date and place for the mediation hearing.

If the forum individuals have chosen does not provide a mediator, but rather requests the parties to select the mediator(s), they should consider, among other factors:

  • The appropriate experience
  • The appropriate training
  • The appropriate site (neutral)
  • The fee schedule
  • The “neutrality” (absence of bias or conflict of interest on the part of the mediator).

If the parties cannot agree on a mediator, the general procedure is to alternately strike names from a list (either provided by an outside source or created by the parties) until only a single name remains. Other alternatives (for panel mediation) include each party choosing any person at all (whether or not on a list) and then both parties choosing a neutral third mediator from the formal list.

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