Wallace , Harrisburg OR 07/01/09
Jim, your efforts on behalf of quality mediation have been very valuable and intelligent, but I question the following statement about certification: "In no context do we suggest that mediator availability should be limited to Mediate.com Certified Mediators. In all cases, this is just one more piece of valuable information for consumers to consider."
Certification will suggest to consumers exactly what you say you do not suggest. It sets a high level of experience and formal training that will leave most newer mediators out. At first glance to say it's "just one more piece of valuable information" seems reasonable, but the fact is that most consumers will take it as an important divide. They will not consider other factors that might well make a mediator with less training and fewer cases an excellent choice.
Would Richard Holbrooke or Henry Kissinger, for instance, qualify? (Obviously consumers would know them by name and history,but you get the point.) Our society already puts too much weight on such formal designations--consider only the number of real estate licenses revoked, certified financial planners involved in the economic collapse, and the millions of real estate appraisals done by certified appraisers that were the basis for crazy loans made by certified mortgage lenders.
Perhaps the word certified implies too much. "Senior" might be more appropriate.
A good code of ethics, standards of practice, complaint procedures and publicity would go farther than certification in upholding the image and assuring the quality of the profession while not disadvantaging new entrants.