By LaToya Highsaw, Massillamany Jeter & Carson LLP
I have been practicing family law for almost five years since entering the legal field. During that time, I have been involved in countless mediations and have seen firsthand how beneficial they can be for the parties. I was intrigued at the mediator’s role in these difficult situations, which involved them dealing with numerous parties and various conflicting personalities. However, I knew I was only able to see half of the picture and wanted to see how it all came together. I had always been interested in becoming a mediator while in law school. Participating in mediations solidified my belief that serving the role of a mediator would assist me in further advocating for my family law clients along with providing me with specific skill sets used by mediators in family law matters.
In August of 2021, I was honored to receive a scholarship from the IndyBar Alternative Dispute Resolution Section to attend a four-day mediation training. On the first day of training, the instructors started off providing us with essential knowledge to have the skill set needed to successfully serve the role of a mediator. I have always learned best with hands-on experience. The instructors ensured that it was a hands-on experience from the beginning by having the class immediately role play as mediating parties in an unscripted exercise on the first day. Going forward, we role played each day which instilled confidence in us to mediate in difficult and unfamiliar situations.
During training, we were provided with material that went in depth into how to approach different personalities, mental diagnoses, cases of domestic violence, etc. I quickly learned that I did not realize the complexities involved in a mediator’s job. As a family law attorney, I deal with different personalities on a case-by-case basis. However, at the mediation training, I learned that mediators are required to do the same but at a higher level due to having to switch back and forth between parties that are very different.
Overall, attending the mediation training enlightened me to know of what all is required to become a successful mediator. I did learn that there are different styles and not one set “recipe” for serving the role of a mediator. While the training was only four days, the material and hands-on experience adequately prepared me for what I need to do to start the process of becoming a mediator.•
This article was originally published on the Alternative Dispute Resolution Section page. To see more from the section, visit indybar.org/adr.