Building a Practice Following Civil Mediation Training
NJAPM provides basic training for both civil and divorce mediators. Following training, building a mediation practice requires time and patience. The mediation community has long acknowledged that starting and growing a civil practice has challenges not faced by entrants to family mediation.
In New Jersey, joining the Rule 1:40 roster is the most common first step that newly trained mediators take to launch their ADR careers. Court referrals present the opportunity to hone skills while earning some compensation. However, these cases are not a firm financial foundation for a full-time practice. This requires building streams of income from multiple sources.
Over time, the personal and economic rewards can be substantial. These rewards require diligently developing mediation credentials (such as by earning an APM), and a sophisticated marketing plan. It takes between 4 and 7 years to build a full-time practice. This is why many entrants to civil mediation don’t “quit their day jobs.”
New mediators owe it to themselves, future clients, and the profession to become the best possible professionals. This requires perpetual continuing education, developing new skills, and sharpening existing ones. Mediators who lack a sufficient intellectual base and/or have few process skills should not expect financial success.
Following are a few steps that may assist with marketing mediation practice. REMEMBER, mediators market their practices by marketing themselves.
Establish a niche — Building a practice around substantive strengths is the shortest road to success. By way of example, Registered Nurses have a natural entrée into elder care mediation.
Market to your niche — Identify the gatekeepers (who select neutrals in each group); approach the gatekeepers; and look for opportunities to help them.
Develop a marketing plan & budget
Spend marketing dollars on a cost effective basis — E.g., “Will a $200.00 listing in the local Chamber of Commerce Directory bring me one case? If so, given my finances is the expense is justified?”
Develop multiple referral sources
Former colleagues/business associates
Government lists, e.g., state court rosters, EEOC
Industry Groups, e.g., FINRA, BBB
Appointing Agencies, e.g., AAA, NAF, JAMS
Start a Website
Become Active in the Profession — Meet people, and get your name known by writing, making presentations, and being a spokesperson for mediation
Remember that each case is an opportunity to market
Curriculum vitae—Constantly being updated
Pro bono cases
Post mediation surveys
All good things take time. For more detailed information on building a civil mediation practice contact NJAPM.