By Kaweme N'gandwe, McKinney 3L
The most recent Breakfast with the Bar focused on careers in Alternative Dispute Resolution and it was a success! Law students interested in practicing in this area received invaluable tips and resources from four local attorneys with varied practice areas as well as former mediator turned Marion Superior court judge. Here are a few takeaways from the event if you were not able to make it.
First, you have heard it once and I will tell you again: network! This is especially important for those considering a career as a mediator. All attorneys who participated in the breakfast could not stress enough the importance of getting to know people to build a strong foundation when starting a mediation practice. The best ways to achieve this is by getting in front of your colleagues – attend events such as IndyBar’s Bench Bar Conference, volunteer at local nonprofit organizations like Kids’ Voice, work or intern at the Prosecutor’s or Public Defender’s office or clerk for a judge.
Once you have established your base and begin mediating, keep in mind that the most successful mediators are more than just the messenger! Clients hire mediators for a specific skill and it is not because you can pass along what the other side is asking for. Not only does this require exceptional problem-solving skills but it also requires you to be creative!
Finally, some good news and (not so) great news: The not so great news is that being a successful mediator is not something that happens right after you pass the bar exam. A majority of the attorneys who participated practiced in their respective areas for at least ten years prior to becoming mediators. Like all things, you need some experience under your belt and unfortunately, for this, there is no substitute! One of the most challenging aspects of being a mediator is staying abreast of the law considering your role is a facilitator of the law for your client. The good news is that Indiana is generally open to the practice and meditation tends to be a low stress - high reward practice! As such, local attorneys have built successful mediation practices and are still able to “close” a client’s case and spend quality time with family all in a day’s work!
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