Newsflash: No money in mediation.

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.


4 Responses to Newsflash: No money in mediation.

  1. Marni says:


    I am actually in law school and considered going into mediation/alternative dispute resolution…unless I decide to make aliyah, which I mentioned in a previous comment months ago may be somewhere on the horizon.

    Anyways, although I know that it would be harder to make money doing mediation in Israel as compared to the US, I would think that many Israelis who are involved in long drawn out messy divorces, employment disputes, business altercations, etc. would jump at the chance to try and resolve the dispute through mediation first, which is cheaper and allows the parties to work out their own differences rather than have a judge decide the outcome for them, over hiring expensive lawyers who may or may not have their own agenda and charge a fortune for their services (not sure how the legal system functions exactly in Israel).

    So perhaps if you were to market yourself in that aspect, that it is really a money-saving opportunity that allows the client to come to their own resolution (and we all know how Israelis love to be right) then maybe it would be a fairly advantageous practice for you.

    Another idea might be to get a law degree (if its free for you as an oleh and you speak Hebrew, what a great opportunity) and combine it with the mediation so that you actually have the ability to sign off on legal papers and documents, i.e., collaborative law, which avoids the litigation process in its entirety and allows the parties and their lawyers to decide how to handle their affairs without the courts, assuming they are able to come to a resolution.

    Good luck!

  2. eliesheva says:

    Thanks Marni!

    I think you are right about the money-saving approach; another problem with mediation for the Israeli public is that it is viewed as “giving up” or that if you are the party to offer the suggestion, you are seen as weak and avoiding court because you know you will lose…

    There are definite cultural aspects but I think in the long run, it might work out for Israel and ADR.

    Currently, the Israeli court system is decent at handing off underage and family cases to mediators before taking the case in court.

  3. Marni says:


    So I guess the friar mentality really does permeate into all aspects of society…..hmm I should fare really well. Makes me think the lawyers in Israel must be real SOBs if they want to make sure neither they nor their clients lose and are consequently perceived to be friars….

    That said, maybe you would have some ideas about this. If I move to Israel with an American JD, besides practicing Israeli law (which I cannot even FATHOM), do you know of any good career opportunities that serve as alternatives to practicing law? Nefesh B’Nefesh told me that many American attorneys go into marketing, business, legal outsourcing, but I was wondering if you had any other ideas or examples. I’m just trying to judge any potential career changes if I do decide to make aliyah.


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