In class yesterday we were discussing the ethical dilemmas with making mediation an obligation from the courts. The subject turned to mediators’ payment and how some courts are trying a new approach, making the first meeting with the mediator an obligation, but free for the disputants. That way, they don’t have to focus on the money in that first introduction but rather on the possibilities offered by the process.
One student rightly mentioned that there seemed to be a neutrality issue there; that the mediator had the incentive to convince the disputants that mediation is worthwhile because then they can get the case afterward (and get paid). My professor laughed and said, well, there’s not much money in mediation anyway (in Israel). Anyone who is a mediator is also doing something else to earn a living… Thousands of people take the mediation certification course and only a handful are actually practicing – and after that, only a handful are making a living off it.
Hmm… Not so encouraging, but I think I was prepared for that anyway. Mediation has a long way to go as a career field in Israel. I think it has to do with the general public learning what it means and why its beneficial. Lately I have been thinking about alternative kinds of manifestations of my conflict management degree, including online dispute resolution projects.