Study mediator Profiles and compare them. Review the feedback from prior users and peers. Follow up on links they offer. Use search engines for more information.
The costs of mediating are invariably a fraction of litigating. Nevertheless, the costs need to be understood and accepted. Mediation Providers often quote costs on a scale of charges that may include the costs charged by their mediators. In larger cases, the costs may be negotiable. Some mediators charge hourly rates, some charge day rates, and some charge for preparation and traveling time, while others do not. In international disputes, travel costs can be significant, but can also be estimated in advance. The total costs of a mediation are usually split equally between the parties. Some parties (such as repeat users of mediation, like insurers) may agree to pay more than an equal split. Any legal fees are usually carried by each party. These arrangements can be confirmed before the mediation (e.g. in an agreement to mediate), or varied afterwards, in a settlement agreement.
Use of Caucuses
Some mediators do not like to meet separately with the parties and prefer to do everything in joint sessions. Some mediators prefer the opposite, and will only work in private sessions with each party separately (in “caucuses”). Others prefer to mix, but may have different views about when to caucus, for how long, and why. Where ongoing or future relationships may be important, it may be useful to do more in joint sessions. Where a reality testing is important, it may be useful to do so in caucuses. There is a surprising variety of views on this, which can vary country-by-country. It is a topic worth discussing with the other side and with the prospective mediator when selecting a neutral.
Code of Conduct
Trust underpins the mediation process. If the parties do not trust a mediator’s integrity in terms of competence, diligence, neutrality, independence, impartiality, fairness and the ability to respect confidences, mediation is unlikely to succeed. When choosing mediators, confirm from the providing organizations (or if you are choosing the mediator directly, confirm with the mediators) whether they adhere to a Code of Professional Conduct and ask to see copies.
Follow up any references. Do not probe for answers than may entail party-confidential information but general questions are usually regarded as perfectly proper.
Conduct further research, perhaps jointly with the other party. Not all competent mediators have chosen to be IMI Certified, so consider the complete panels of Mediation Providers and professional organizations. If the mediator or provider cannot give you access to prior user feedback in an anonymous form, you need to find other ways to know more about the mediator’s actual performance in prior cases and other indicators of the mediator’s competency and suitability.