We mediators must avoid serving in cases where they have a direct personal or financial interest in the outcome of the mediation. It becomes complicated when the interest is indirect: the mediator has a personal relationship with a partner in the law firm, happens to have counsel for mediation the mediation you are working. An appearance of conflict of interest is the same as actual conflict of interest. A great way to litmus test any conflict of interest is would the mediator be okay with the “headline test”: the information plastered on the front page of the newspaper?
The reality is in family mediation, mediators, attorneys, child family investigators etc. work together because of a mutual, professional respect. That said any type of bias or favoritism for the repetitive relationship needs constant evaluation by the mediator to maintain neutrality.
Competence/Professional Role Boundaries
We mediators have to know the limits of our abilities, when the possible case is out our scope of background or experience. Sometimes parties want the mediator to have subject matter experience. Sometimes we are requested to mediate a case that is out of our scope of experience, it is our duty to refuse the matter for a more suitable mediator. Since mediators that might have come from different backgrounds like law, engineering, mental health we do not don the hat of our former professions to offer those services to the parties. We are doing a disservice to them by juggling those other professions.
All mediators must remain vigilant they do not don hats of other professions most importantly lawyers, frequently called unauthorized practice of law or UPL for short. We must not counsel parties, apply the law to the parties situation, advise or strongly suggest an outcome in a court of law. If we do this, it undermines our role as neutrals. Do not get in over your head, stay a mediator.
We mediators need to remain focused on remaining detached from the emotions throughout the process. This does not mean that the mediator does not care about the parties, process or outcome. We just need to have the abilities to evaluate every step of the way, neutrally. If we do have, any feelings about the process etc. no need to disclose those sentiments to anyone. If impartiality cannot be maintained, the mediator should withdraw from the case. Mediators do not fight for one party, they help the parties find solutions for their outcome.
If you have any questions about ethics in mediation or how I can help you with your conflict do not hesitate to contact me.
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