Why Do We Mediate

Mediation, why do we mediators do it? Well, let’s not be disingenuous. We aren’t saints so the primary reason is to earn a living. That isn’t however the whole story. I earned far more as a lawyer than I am ever likely to as a mediator. I just decided that I would rather spend all my working life trying to help couples reach a resolution through negotiation in mediation than litigating.

The reality is that there are often days when we mediators all wonder whether it ever works. We spend a session with the couple who think that mediation is a magic bullet without any apparent understanding that the mediator can only facilitate negotiations and that they are the ones who have to decide whether they really want to negotiate or not. There is the couple who want to use the mediation process as a re-run of all the worst highlights of their relationship despite all one’s best attempts to head them off at the pass and return them to the present, indeed, more importantly, the future.

And then there is the case, difficult as it may be (and the one in question was) where the clients really get it and appreciate what mediation is all about. I can’t sum it up any more eloquently than in the words of a client who said how grateful he was that there “are people like you who work so hard for a hopefully happy ending in a very bad situation”.

Now, that’s not me blowing my own trumpet as I know that we all have cases where our clients would say the same. However it is why we all mediate. No expensive advertising campaign could say better what my client did about why mediation is a good thing. Knowing how important that outcome is to one client, and therefore a whole family, is why we plug away at it.


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