I'm a mediator. I received training through an externship program with my school, and have been mediating disputes all year (it's a court-connected mediation program). I recommend it if you get the chance--it's the best thing I've done so far in law school (I'm a 2L). First, you get the training paid for, which saves you a good bit of money, as it can be expensive. Also, if you're doing it through a school program, you'll likely get tons of experience. By the time I finish my program in the spring, I'll have meadiated approximately 200 disputes. You can't buy that kind of experience, and can take years to accumulate that many mediations outside of a court-connected program. It's also a great thing to be able to put on your resume, I think--the employers I interviewed with this fall all asked me extensively about the program, my experiences, and seemed to feel I'd be gaining valuable experience. More and more, people are trying to resolve legal disputes via mediation and other ADR methods before litigating, and I think having some exposure to the mediation process will make you stand out as an applicant, if that's something that is important to you.The best thing about it, in my view, is the fact that you get to interact with real people with real problems. You meet people from all walks of life, many with very real (and often very serious) problems, and it's your job to help them resolve their disputes if possible. It gets you out of the classroom, away from the books, and into situations where what you say and do can have a real effect on people. It's great practical experience. It's not always easy, but it teaches you a lot of valuable skills--patience, negotiation strategies, listening skills, dealing with highly emotional people while keeping your cool, etc. Plus you get to see a lot of lawyers in action--the good, the bad, and the ugly. It's educational, to say the least. You also see how the law impacts people in real life, and the ways it can be used/misused. Hope that's helpful. If you have any specific questions, I'd be happy to answer them (you can PM me if you want, or post a reply, whatever).
Any idea how one would go about finding a mediation externship program?
Good stuff....thanks for the reply. How does the a typical dispute resolution work? Do you as a mediator, listen to both sides and then offer advice and suggestions and then it is up to the parties to do decide whether they want to follow your suggestions? Do your suggestions have any authority behind them?
That exchange was awesome - thanks AtlAggie. Well done!