Mediator Invoicing – the Bell Curve of Gratitude

I’m not sure that you would find this in an accounting text book but my theory has always been that there’s as much in the when and how you invoice, as in what you invoice.

The When?…

For me, it’s not before the mediation – prepayment in my market is seen as a trust issue, even with new clients. So we don’t do it here in NZ.

And it’s not at the mediation either. This happened the other day and I felt like I belonged to the oldest profession instead of one of the youngest.

But there does seem to be a Goldilocks Zone – not too soon and not too late after the mediation – soon is not a good look – too keen, almost greedy. Late and you look disorganised.

So where’s the top of the curve then, wiseguy?
My theory?… the optimum time to bill is two, maybe three/four days after the mediation; when gratitude is high – after a time for reflecting on the value of the work you have done… when the benefit of ‘moving on/ruling a line/bygones…’ is felt – especially with individuals. It’s the waking up the morning after the mediation without the conflict being the very first thing that comes to mind that immediately gets noticed.Plus I never get the whole 20th of the month thing. I send out my invoice in the same week as I mediate and request payment within 7 days. Organisations take longer to process the invoice than this, but anything 3/4 weeks old is soon on the radar screen.

The How…?

Well, paper is out…email is in.

A secure .pdf file oughta do it.

And include plenty of options for how the money gets to you. Cheque, Internet, credit card…and tell them when they have to pay by – which will come right out of your engagement terms* you provided by email when you first got the job, right?

I especially encourage payment over the Internet via their bank’s bill payment facility. All they do is type in my account details that are on my bill and next thing I know I get an email alert from my bank telling me about the payment. See, no hands!

And if they don’t pay, you can send a statement (personally, I don’t bother – I just send a friendly standard email asking how payment is coming along – usually does the trick nicely). The trick is who to send it to.

Interested in learning more? Go here for this 31 page free e-book from CAD Partners called ‘How to control your business cash flow…and keep some for yourself’

*I will do a future post on the top 10 things to put in your engagement terms – would anyone would like to volunteer their own as a case study?


Geoff Sharp

Geoff Sharp is a Commercial Mediator from Wellington, New Zealand. Geoff works in the Asia Pacific region, including New Zealand, Malaysia, Thailand and Pacific Islands. He is a mediator resolving business problems. He is a fellow of the International Academy of Mediators and mediates complex and hotly debated litigation covering… MORE >

Featured Mediators

View all

Read these next


Grassroots Process for Resolving Structural Conflict

Grassroots Process for Resolving Structural Conflict: Conversations on Compassion event: Prison Songs D.V.D. 54% of children in juvenile detention centers are Indigenous and they are 26 times more likely than non-Indigenous...

By Michelle Brenner

Guidelines for the Ethical Practice of Mediation and to Prevent the Unauthorized Practice of Law

Approved by the Dispute Resolution Section Executive Committee on April 14, 1999 Approved by the North Carolina Bar Association Board of Governors on June 17, 1999 INTRODUCTION The use of...

By Managing Editor

Did Hunger Sabotage A Mediation?

The other day, I conducted two mediations between the same plaintiff's counsel, the same defendants and their counsel. The only different party in the two mediations was the plaintiff. One...

By Phyllis Pollack

Find a Mediator