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New Niche Market For ADR Professionals?

by Jeff Thompson
August 2009

From Jeff Thompson's Enjoy Mediation Blog

Jeff Thompson
For those not sure if the foreclosure mediation programs popping in numerous states is a market for mediators to make some income, think again. All one has to do is look at Nevada, which has the highest foreclosure rate in the nation [from a recent WSJ article here].

Mediators, in certain court connected programs have received payment previously, but with the launch of many of these foreclosure programs, this is the first time payment is being offered to such a large amount of mediators. Additionally, the rate is a decent wage as a recent Las Vegas Sun article states [full article here]:

More than 400 people, many of them attorneys and retired judges, have come forward to serve as mediators. They are paid $400, $200 from each side, for the sessions that can last up to four hours.

With this new niche for mediators, it also creates a new market for conflict specialists/strategists/coaches/consultants. Reading further into the article one finds out just how much a specialist charges:

Michael Joe, an attorney and foreclosure specialist for the Legal Aid Center of Southern Nevada, said he has seen attorneys advertise their services for $1,500 to $3,500 to help homeowners in mediation. It’s piggybacking on attorneys’ ads to help homeowners modify loans, he said.

What the above quote is referring to is how attorneys, not mediators or conflict specialists, have seen the light of this new niche field and are seizing the opportunity.

The article has this to add:

“What they are doing is trolling the county recorder’s site to see who is getting foreclosed upon and mailing them,” Joe said. “It is preying upon the weak and the desperate.”

Joe said homeowners don’t need attorney representation because the mediators are supposed to be knowledgeable, fair and unbiased. There are programs for homeowners to learn how to represent themselves in mediation and understand how the process works, he said.

With this new field, there are always the scammers and it should be no surprise there are many taking advantage of people. Since these foreclosure programs are new, there are many questions arising such as what is the exact role these ‘assistants’ play?

From ReviewJournal.com:

“The scams have been very rampant."
Unlicensed consultants often charged up-front fees and then provided no assistance to desperate homeowners facing foreclosure.

Read the rest of the article [here]

Are mediators and other conflict resolvers also seeing this an a prime opportunity to get in on the action and offer their services? I mentioned [here] about the divide between attorney-mediators and non-attorney mediators, and this can be another example of it.
If this becomes the case, the non-attorney mediators and ADR professionals have no one to blame but themselves. If attorneys are reaching out to possible clients, why are not other ADR professionals? An immediate observation I had when reading the article was the fee currently being charged to offer assistance- $1,500 to $3,500. And that is for just the mediation!

I will stop here to keep things brief and give you all a chance to have a read and develop your own opinions. As always, comments and feedback are always welcome!

Biography


Jeff Thompson, Ph.D., is a professor at Lipscomb University, researcher, mediator, and trainer. He is also involved in crisis and hostage negotiation as well as a law enforcement detective. His research includes law enforcement crisis and hostage negotiation in terrorist incidents. He received his doctorate from Griffith University Law School having researched the impact nonverbal communication has in conflict situations with respect to developing rapport, building trust, and displaying professionalism.

Dr. Thompson has presented and trained on the topic of conflict, mediation, (crisis and hostage) negotiation, communication and nonverbal communication internationally for a variety of audiences including police personnel, government officials, judges, attorneys, physicians, sales people, business professionals, and both graduate and undergraduate students. He has also been published in numerous professional and academic publications.

He is the co-chair of ACR's national Crisis Negotiation Section, and he is an ad-hoc reviewer for multiple academic journals. He received his MS in Negotiation and Dispute Resolution from the Werner Institute, Creighton University School of Law.

(All posts by Jeff Thompson represent his personal reflections and opinions and not that of any organization.)



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