Hello and Welcome.
Your clients want a great mediator
My name is Steven Mather, I’m a Commercial Mediator based in Leicestershire and mediating disputes in the East Midlands and further afield.
A real passion of mine has always been helping clients resolve their legal disputes. As a solicitor, I’ve always encouraged clients to mediate early. Now, as a Commercial Mediator, I ensure lawyers like you keep their litigation clients happy, by helping them to resolve their disputes through effective mediation.
Your clients want a mediator who:
- is calm, but not too namby pamby
- is friendly, but gets the job done
- knows their stuff, but let’s the parties have their day.
Getting the Deal Done
I’m all about getting the deal done, and as quickly as possible. This means I try where possible to focus on mediation settlement meetings being set for half a day as I find it focuses people’s mind on the deal. That said, I am more than happy to hold full day mediations if you and your opposing solicitor believe that to be useful.
How to Select a Mediator?
As a solicitor, there was a couple of things I found to be issues when selecting a mediator. You can either use someone like CEDR or ADR Group and pay more for the same quality, or you can use someone independent like me. Either way, unless they come recommended, you don’t really know what quality you are getting. The other issue is that generally we select mediators like we select experts, and so we want to see that they have the right level of experience – does their CV specifically mention the precise area of law that our dispute is about?
I’m not saying that’s wrong, but when you and your clients are choosing a mediator, I believe that you should be picking the person who will actually be able to get the deal done, rather than some barrister who can rehearse the legal position in detail or a Judge that can give an opinion on how he would decide the case.
Getting the deal done is a skill, or in fact a multitude of skills, and so I think its the skillset that you ought to be looking at the following:
Mediator Skill Sets
- rapport and relationships – is the mediator friendly and will they “get on” with your clients
- calmness – your clients will be stressed, and so your mediator will need to put them at ease – but at the same time, you don’t want someone too ‘namby pamby’ who can just sit and talk all day.
- negotiation skills – you want someone that has access to the whole suite of negotiation tactics, to help you and your clients get the best deal for each party
- personality – do you want a dry old bore who makes the day drag or someone that has a bit of personality, and brings a bit of humour where appropriate
- experience – yes it is important, just not the most important thing, but you do need a mediator who understands what your client is facing and the legal issues at play so that you and your client’s position can be challenged (with you or the other side).
There’s also a number of types of mediators and again it’s important that you know which one is right for you and your client.
Types of Mediators
In my experience there are a few types of mediators:
- Neutral, passive, uber-calm – these are great mediators for strong emotionally driven disputes such as neighbour disputes, and equally good at workplace mediations and that kind of thing. My view is that they generally do not help commercial parties resolve disputes.
- Evaluative, informed, opinionated – many barrister mediators I’ve instructed as a solicitor fell into this category. They’ll happily give you an opinion on the merits of the case even when you didn’t ask “I had a case just like this once and…”.
- Facilitative – helps the parties to make to engage in helpful discussions making it their day and about them not the mediator. The result will be the parties result and not suggested by the mediator and the mediator will not give an opinion on the case.
- Arbitrators – bless them, they are great at arbitration, making dictats and binding decisions, but they always seem to be a little bit too authoritative and many clients don’t like that as it takes away the need for the clients to come up with the deal
- Transformative, Let’s all hug it out – as people, these types are the friends we all want. But for commercial disputes, they’re a little too namby-pamby. While I agree there are always people behind every dispute, directors and business owners tend to be able to look pragmatically and logically at their disputes and we don’t need to try to “heal” relationships and hug it out at the end.
I’m not saying any of the above types are wrong, just that the right mediator needs to have a balance between being facilitative, knowledgeable, challenging on positions and friendly.
About Steven Mather Mediator
I’ve been a solicitor since 2008, always practising in Litigation and Dispute Resolution. In 2010-11, I trained to be a civil/commercial mediator.
Just prior to that, I had been studying Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP) which is pseudo-scientific approach to how the brain works, communication, relationships, personal development and psychotherapy. It sounds complicated but isn’t.
Also around that time, I’d left practise a solicitor because I wasn’t enjoying it so much. My daughter (now 10) had been born and I had become a Christian as well, and was finding it difficult to balance my new mind, new beliefs and new person.
So I decided that I would become a mediator.
I trained at the London School of Psychotherapy. It was top quality training. I specifically chose them over say CEDR or ADR Group, because I wanted to learn more about the psychology of disputes and to build on my NLP training earlier.
It was great, and at first life changing. Together with the other things happening in my life, I really thought that this way was the future! That I could really help people to avoid Court and resolve disputes, heal relationships and everyone would come out happy and relieved, and there may even be a hug at the end of the day.
I did a number of mediations and was loving what I was doing.
In 2011, I joined a law firm back as a solicitor and quickly became Partner and Head of Litigation. I was back into enjoying the work again, and so mediating disputes got put on the back seat a little. I did no more than 3 or 4 mediations a year as a mediator (many more as a solicitor).
But what I realised is that my skills and training as a mediator and skills and training as a solicitor were a perfect combination. That the mediators I had experienced were usually over-trained in law or over-trained in mediation (there are SOME GREAT mediators out there don’t get me wrong!).
So here’s what I do
I mediate Civil/Commercial disputes of all types. Given my experience, I mediate a lot of agricultural disputes, probate disputes and contract disputes, but take a look at my CV or just ask and I’m pretty sure I will have dealt with a similar dispute to the one your client has right now.
Your clients get a mediator who is calm, friendly and approachable.
Your clients will feel comfortable from the start and I’ll try to bring my sense of humour to proceedings where possible so it is a less stressful day.
Your clients get the benefit of my whole toolbox of tactics to get the deal done.
Your clients will lead the discussions and I will just facilitate those discussions and let the parties settle their dispute. But if it requires me to challenge a legal position or psychological position, then I will do. Your clients will get the deal done quickly.
My suggestion when picking a mediator is for you to speak to them and see whether you think they would work well with your clients, rather than just look at their mediation CV.
So feel free to give me a call.
0116 3667 900