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THE RESOLUTION REPORT ONLINE

May 2008 - Volume 23, Number 1

News on Dispute Resolution trends, laws and ethics

New Changes to Mediator Certification Requirements

By Elizabeth S. Roach

A major change to the certification of court mediators went into effect on November 15, 2007.  Following a petition by the Alternative Dispute Resolution Rules and Policy Committee, the Florida Supreme Court enacted modifications to the already established certification requirements.  The changes are designed to streamline the certification process, allow people from a wider variety of experience backgrounds to apply, and increase diversity in the mediator pool.  The new requirements will affect applicants in many ways.

To understand the implication of the changes, it is helpful to look at the previous rules on certification.  The rules for mediator certification were first established in 1988.  Originally, the qualifications, with the exception of county mediator certification, were “degree-based.”   Generally, in order to become certified in family or dependency mediation, this meant one had to have an advanced degree (masters or higher) in a variety of disciplines or be a physician or attorney licensed in any US jurisdiction.  For circuit mediator certification, the requirements were even narrower in that one had to be a Florida lawyer with five years of Florida practice or a retired judge from any US jurisdiction .   These initial qualifications, adopted to ease acceptance of the mediation program, remained in place for county, family and dependency certification until 2006, when the Florida Supreme Court adopted the point system, and for circuit, until November 15, 2007 when the Court released its second opinion in SC05-998.

The Court engaged in lengthy analysis, holding two oral arguments and considering input from the ADR Rules and Policy Committee as well as The Florida Bar.  Ultimately, the Court amended the certification rules to allow non-attorneys to apply for circuit certification and changed the qualifications system from education based to points based on different categories.  Justice Harry Lee Anstead described the changes as an historic accomplishment which provides a clear signal to the public that mediation does not belong to a single profession.

Recognizing that some parties will desire that their circuit mediation be conducted by a member of The Florida Bar, the Court amended the Florida Rules of Civil Procedure to include a provision that parties may still request circuit mediators with Florida Bar status. See rule 1.720(f)(2).

The new point system has general point total requirements for each category of mediator certification as well as sub-section requirements such as education and mentorship.
           
It is important to note that all sub-requirements must be met. Even though a person may have enough points to equal 100 total points, they are still required to earn the minimum number of points in education/training experience .

For example, as displayed on the following charts a person applying for certification as a circuit mediator must attend a certified training program; have either a Bachelor’s degree and five years of mediation experience, or a Master’s degree or higher; complete observations or co-mediations adding up to 30 points; and accrue 15 additional points in some way- such as additional education points, professional license points, or additional mentorship points. 

Certification Requirements as of November 15, 2007

Points Needed Per Area of Certification

Minimum Points Required in Each Area

County

100

30 certified county mediation training; 10 education (minimum HS Diploma/GED); 60 mentorship

Family

100

30 certified family mediation training; 25 education/mediation experience (minimum Bachelor’s Degree1); 30 mentorship [and requires 15 additional points]

Dependency

100

30 certified dependency mediation training; 25 education/mediation experience (minimum Bachelor’s Degree2); 40 mentorship [and requires 5 additional points]

Circuit

100

30 certified circuit mediation training, 25 education/mediation experience (minimum Bachelor’s Degree3); 30 mentorship; [and requires 15 additional points]

Education/Mediation Experience (points awarded for highest level of education received)

HS Diploma/GED

10 points

Master’s Degree in Conflict Resolution

30

Associate’s Degree

15 points

Doctorate (e.g., JD, MD, PhD, EdD, LLM)

30

Bachelor’s Degree

20 points

Ph.D. from accredited CR Program

40

Master’s Degree

25 points

Graduate Certificate CR Program

+5

Florida certified mediator: 1 point per year in which mediated at least 15 mediations (any type)

OR any mediator: – 5 points for minimum of 100 mediations (any type) over a 5 year period

Mentorship- must work with at least 2 different certified mediators and must be completed for the type of certification sought

Observation

5 points each session

Supervised Mediation

10 points each complete mediation

Miscellaneous Points

Licensed to practice law, psychology, accounting, social work, mental health, health care, education or mediation in any US jurisdiction

5 points (total)

Florida Certified Mediator

5 points (total)

Foreign Language Conversational Ability as demonstrated by certification by ACTFL Oral Proficiency Test; qualified as a court interpreter; or accredited by the American Translators Association; Sign Language Interpreter as demonstrated by approval by the Registry of Interpreters for the Deaf

5 points (total)

Completion of additional mediation training program (minimum 30 hours in length) certified/approved by a state or court other than Florida

5 points (total)

1-3 In order to amass the 25 education/mediation experience point minimum for family, circuit or dependency certification, one must have either:

A) a Master’s Degree or higher; OR

B) a Bachelor’s Degree (20 points) and have substantial mediation experience (yielding at least 5 points) or have earned a graduate certificate in Conflict Resolution (5 points).

For more information on the new certification system, interested persons should check out the DRC website at http://www.flcourts.org/gen_public/adr/index.shtml.


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