MC3’s requirement for litigation nuts and bolts training for its mediators is mandated for all MC3-Certified Mediators, even those that only mediate non-litigated cases. From a practical standpoint it makes sense, as when mediators weigh with their disputants the alternatives if the matter does not settle, having an awareness of what may be ahead in potential litigation may form part of that assessment. From a professional standpoint, the public expects that every certified mediator would have some awareness of litigation processes.
MC3’s gold standard is objectively based upon qualifications respected by those in the mediation field. What makes a good mediator, however, varies with disputants, as the mediator’s style, personality, ability to listen, sensitivity, and effectiveness may depend upon the type of mediation as well as the individuals involved. MC3 limits itself to qualifying mediators so that the public can be assured that MC3-Certified Mediators have passed the highest quality standards in the field. From a practical standpoint, mediation consumers are still likely to consider the types of cases the mediator has handled as well as panel memberships when selecting amongst MC3-Certified Mediators for a dispute.
The mediation field is robust with mediators from all backgrounds, not just legal backgrounds. Research studies on the effectiveness of mediators have shown no statistically significant difference between settlement rates of attorney mediators and non-attorney mediators, even in litigated cases. Task forces for nationally respected organizations such as the American Bar Association and the Association for Conflict Resolution have recommended that certification be open to mediators from diverse personal and professional backgrounds and that the standards developed to certify mediators respect that openness. MC3 openly embraces the work of these organizations and has created a certification process that is reflective of the values held by the mediation community.
As consumers, many of us benefit from searching for professionals in a number of other occupations on an unbiased, third-party website. This helps provide confidence in the information on the website about each professional’s background. Those professionals enjoy the respect of the public because they have been required to meet and continue to meet a number of requirements to retain their status as a professional. If we removed this protection from fields such as law, medicine, or others, our ability to sort through reliable practitioners would be compromised. MC3 collects this information for the public, helping to create a connection between potential mediation consumers and MC3-Certified Mediators.
MC3 is a nonprofit, certification-only organization that combines some of the highest standards in the field for mediator education and training with requirements that the public expects of professionals. These requirements include but are not limited to: regulation based on an agreed-upon ethics code, background checks, and continuing education and professional activity. MC3 is not a panel that certifies its own mediators that it has trained; rather, it is an independent entity that has developed a set of standards that provide the public with the ability to choose mediators based upon achievement respected in the field.
Each organization makes their own decision on this, but what has been communicated to MC3 is the following:
Each mediator makes their own decision on this, but what has been communicated to MC3 is the following:
MC3 Certification communicates to potential clients that you hold yourself to the highest ethical standards as a mediator. Your willingness to participate in the MC3 Grievance Procedure is an important reason why potential clients will trust you to help resolve their conflicts. Rather than view certification as a drawback, it should be seen as a competitive advantage—an integral part of your value proposition as a mediator. Put yourself in the shoes of your potential clients who might easily ask, “Why should I trust a mediator that is unwilling to be accountable for ethical practice?”
The MC3 Grievance Procedure provides a fair, respectful, informal, and confidential process for addressing reports that an MC3-Certified Mediator has not appropriately followed the required standards of conduct. The process contemplates two types of reports: informal inquiries and formal grievances.
When an informal inquiry is made, an MC3 representative will attempt to address the concern by providing information about mediation and the applicable standards of conduct. The MC3 representative will also inform the person that no formal action will be initiated based on the inquiry and explain the process of making a formal grievance. The inquiry remains confidential. MC3 believes most concerns will be addressed using this informal process.
If a formal grievance is filed, MC3 will initiate an investigation to determine whether it appears the MC3-Certified Mediator did not appropriately follow an applicable standard of conduct. This investigation will include notifying the MC3-Certified Mediator of the grievance, requesting relevant information, and providing the MC3-Certified Mediator an opportunity to respond. The investigation will be conducted in a manner that preserves the confidentiality of mediation communications and provides both grievant and the MC3-Certified Mediator a full opportunity to be heard concerning the grievance. Based on the investigation, MC3 will determine the appropriate action to take. This may include closing the grievance without any action, reprimanding the mediator, requiring additional training, or in extreme cases, suspending or revoking MC3 Certification. If certification is suspended or revoked, this action will be made public on MC3’s website.
As an MC3-Certified Mediator, you will be required to implement certain best practices. It is likely you are already doing some of these things. Nonetheless, to meet the high expectations of those who entrust their disputes to MC3-Certified Mediators, MC3 requires that certified mediators adopt the following best practices:
There is one exception. If an MC3-Certified Mediator conducts a mediation as a volunteer for a DRPA organization, then the mediator is exempt from these requirements. Instead, they should follow the requirements imposed by the DRPA organization. MC3 will refer any grievance it receives relating to a DRPA mediation to the DRPA organization for resolution.
To enable MC3 to investigate fully complaints against its certified mediators, MC3-Certified Mediators agree that the subject mediation communications may be disclosed in an MC3 grievance proceeding notwithstanding mediation confidentiality. Moreover, MC3-Certified Mediators must include a provision—provided by MC3—in their written confidentiality agreements stating that the participants agree that mediation communications may be disclosed in an MC3 grievance proceeding for the limited purpose of resolving a complaint that the MC3-Certified Mediator did not appropriately follow the applicable standards of conduct.
Quality assurance and self-regulation are two distinguishing features of a profession. They foster public respect for the profession and public trust in the professionals who deal with sensitive information. The background check process allows MC3-Certified Mediators to distinguish themselves from other mediators who have chosen not to meet public expectations for professionals.