By LaToya Highsaw, Massillamany Jeter & Carson LLP
I have practiced family law for almost five years since entering the legal field. During this time, I have participated in countless mediations and have seen with my own eyes how beneficial they can be for the parties. I was intrigued by the role of the mediator in these difficult situations, which brought him to face many parties and various personalities in conflict. However, I knew I could only see half of the image and wanted to see how it all came together. I have always been interested in becoming a mediator while studying law. Participating in mediations reinforced my belief that the role of mediator would help me better defend my clients in family law and provide me with specific skills used by mediators in family law cases.
In August 2021, I had the honor of receiving a scholarship from the IndyBar Alternative Dispute Resolution Section to complete a four-day mediation training course. On the first day of the training, the instructors began to provide us with the essential knowledge to have the skills necessary to successfully fulfill the role of mediator. I have always learned better with practical experience. The instructors ensured it was a hands-on experience from the start by immediately having the class play the role of mediating parties in an unscripted exercise on day one. In the future, we played a role every day, which instilled in us the confidence to officiate in difficult and unfamiliar situations.
During the training we were provided with material that deepened how to approach different personalities, mental diagnoses, cases of domestic violence etc. I quickly understood that I did not realize the complexity of the work of a mediator. As a family law lawyer, I deal with different personalities on a case-by-case basis. However, during the mediation training I learned that mediators are required to do the same thing but at a higher level as they have to alternate between very different parties.
Overall, attending the mediation training allowed me to know what it takes to become an effective mediator. I have learned that there are different styles and not a single “recipe” for fulfilling the role of mediator. Although the training only lasted four days, the materials and hands-on experience prepared me well for what I need to do to begin the process of becoming a mediator.
This article originally appeared on the Alternative Dispute Resolution Section page. To learn more about the section, visit indybar.org/adr.