Voluntary Mediator Certification Initiative
On October 4, 2017, the Los Angeles County Superior Court (LASC) issued a request for proposals (RFP) for civil mediation services. The RFP offers mediation providers the opportunity to help settle LASC cases in an effort to address LASC’s growing calendar overload. However, the RFP controversially excludes non-attorney mediators and attorney mediators with less than ten years of California Bar membership. This effectively disqualifies a significant number of mediators, many of whom have been successfully settling LASC cases for years. More- over, these restrictions have no basis in research on mediation success, which shows little difference in settlement rates between attorney and non- attorney mediators.
LASC’s RFP is a wake-up call for the mediation community. The RFP is evidence that if we fail to establish our own mediator qualifications, others will do it for us. And too often, they will do it in a way that is inconsistent with our shared values and the values of the mediation profession.
Latest Posts & Articles About MC3
For more information, please see the Committee documents below:
- Certified Mediator Qualification
- 2014 Report and Frequently Asked Questions
- 2017 ACR Program on Professionalizing Mediation: Understanding the Impact of Taking the Next Steps
- 2013 White Paper (Note that the white paper and its proposed certified mediator model have been informed by the public comment process in which the Committee has been engaged since the beginning of 2014. The documents above, to the extent they reflect modifications to the white paper, supersede the certified mediator model that was originally proposed).
- ABA Task Force Report
- 2018 MC3 Position Paper
For more information, please contact either:
- Jack Goetz at firstname.lastname@example.org
- Victoria Gray at email@example.com
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) About Certification
Is it really true that mediators in California are not credentialed or regulated?
Yes. “Credentialing” is a general term to include the many ways of establishing mediator qualifications, including certification and licensure. In California there is no state or universally accepted agency that credentials mediators and no uniform criteria for regulation or certification.
What is the difference between regulation and certification?
“Regulation” is done by the state and is often accompanied by licensing. “Certification” is voluntary, conferred by some type of organization rather than the state. Certification recognizes the attainment of standards that have been established by the certifying organization.
Some mediators describe themselves as “certified mediators.” What does that mean?
Generally this means that they attended a training and received a certificate of attendance. Those organizations that train mediators using the standards set forth in the Dispute Resolution Programs Act often indicate on the certificate that the participants have met those standards.
What is the proposed mediator certification initiative?
The initiative seeks to establish a Consortium of mediation training and provider organizations that would offer certification to mediators on a voluntary basis. The Consortium would establish training and experience requirements for certification and review mediators’ applications to determine whether the applicant has satisfied the requirements, in which case certification would be granted. Consortium members would agree to support the standards set by the requirements below and act as a reviewing organization to ensure that the standards of the program are maintained.
What the reason/purpose for voluntary mediator certification?
The Committee work is intended primarily to raise practice standards in the field of mediation in California and utilize the existing AAA/ABA/ACR Model Standards of Conduct as its governing code. It is also intended to help mediators demonstrate that they have satisfied these standards and to help mediation consumers identify qualified mediators.
Is this the first step toward mediator regulation?
The proposed voluntary certification program is not intended as a first step toward government regulation. In fact, by establishing and adhering to higher practice standards mediators may demonstrate that government regulation is not necessary. The Committee has been guided by the ABA report, which stated in part: “Credentialing should provide information about prospective mediators and/or a signal of quality, and organizations should be able to require members of their panels to satisfy requirements. Credentialing should not, however, operate as a de facto licensing system that bars non-credentialed persons from practicing as mediators generally.”
Will non-certified mediators still be able to practice?
The answer is unequivocally yes. The ABA Report noted the importance of self-determination for disputants in mediation, allowing disputants the choice of selecting a non-certified mediator. Since the Consortium is not a licensing or regulatory body, non-certified mediators will continue to be able to practice as California law allows.
Who will make and enforce the rules for certification?
The certification program will be implemented and administered by a group of associations that have joined together as a Consortium. The Consortium will determine the requirements and procedures for certification.
What will be required for certification?
The requirements to achieve the certified mediator (CM) credential will be established by the Consortium. However, the Committee has recommended that an applicant must meet requirements in three different areas: education; performance; and professional activity. These requirements would be represented on the application for the CM through a series of point allocations, with a total of 200 points required – 110 from education, 50 from performance, and 40 from professional activity. While the classroom and practical training are designed to ensure consistency in standards of knowledge for certification, the point system is also designed to accommodate and include the wide variety of professional expertise, academic training, and practical mediation experience that people bring to the practice of mediation and to recognize the value of the diversity of experience and expertise. The Committee recommendation would also require that a CM pass an objective test.
Will there be a fee for becoming certified?
Yes, but the governing body will be a non-profit organization and the fees charged are planned to be reasonable and reflect the cost of implementing the certification system.
Why would a mediator want to become certified?
A mediator would want to become certified to demonstrate his or her attainment of a higher level of training and experience for mediators.
How will a mediator maintain certification?
The requirements to maintain certification will be determined by the Consortium. The Committee has recommended that each CM must document Continuing Professional Development over a three year period in areas deemed acceptable to the Consortium.
Will there be a process for quality assurance, grievances or even de-certification?
Yes. The ABA Report noted that any credentialing system should “provide an accessible, transparent system to register complaints against credentialed mediators. . . promptly and fairly investigate complaints and, if appropriate, de-credential a mediator who fails to comply with standards.” The proposed Consortium framework will provide users of mediation services a place to process issues they may have with the services provided by a certified mediator, in a manner that is respectful of the mediator and consistent with mediation confidentiality.