How to Become a Mediator
In general, to become a mediator, two activities are recommended: mediation specific training and gaining mediation experience. New Jersey does not require licensing or certification to become a mediator in private practice, although there are minimum requirements to gain admission to various mediation rosters.
The mediation training should correspond to the area of mediation you wish to practice. While mediation skills are common to all areas of practice (and are distinct skills from those of advocacy/lawyering and therapy), different areas of mediation will have different "expertise" which should be learned. For instance, a divorce mediator needs to be educated in the specifics of NJ divorce law (while that information may not be helpful to a commercial or elder mediator). Training opportunities are offered by NJAPM.
Mediation experience can be gained in a number of ways. You may find another mediator be mentored by, take a mediation apprenticeship or volunteer with various courts and organizations.
To Become a Member of the NJ Superior Court Roster of Mediators
The qualifications and training required to become a court-approved mediator are stated in Rule 1:40-12 of the New Jersey court rules. While not every mediator will work in a court-approved program, NJAPM has adopted the requirements of Rule 1:40-12 as a basis for granting status to an individual as an Accredited Professional Mediator (APM) . Once the requirements have been met, the mediator is qualified to practice in any of the court-sponsored programs or to do private mediation.
Qualifications and Training Requirements
(1) Any individual, regardless of his or her education or occupation is eligible to become a mediator. However, to be listed on the court-approved roster of mediators, the individual must be good standing in his or her profession and must meet specific criteria regarding years of professional experience, education and training.
(2) Family Part Mediators must hold a graduate degree or a certification of advanced training in a behavioral or social science. They must also have training in mediation techniques and supervised experience in mediation. (Relevant experience may be substituted for educational requirements, if approved by the court.) The training requirements can be met through the completion of a 40-hour course approved by the court which covers basic mediation skills and specialized training in family and child development, family law and divorce procedures. The NJAPM 40 hour Divorce Mediation course fulfills this requirement.
(3) Civil, General Equity and Probate Mediators must have at least 5 years of professional experience in their field of expertise plus either an advanced degree and a minimum of two successful mediated cases within the last year; or an undergraduate degree and a minimum of 10 mediated cases within the last 5 years. Note that the requirement for mediation experience is waived if the individual has a graduate degree and completed their mediation training in the past 5 years. Each mediator must also complete an 18 hour basic mediation training approved by the court and have at least 5 hours of mentoring in at least 2 cases in the Superior Court by an experienced roster mediator who is on the court-approved roster of mentors. Mentoring may be waived if the individual has completed 10 hours of approved advance mediation coursework. NJAPM offers both the basic civil mediation training and the advanced training to satisfy these requirements.
(4) Special Civil Part (Small Claims). Mediators who meet other qualifications can be approved by the court to mediate small claims actions. They can also mediate landlord-tenant disputes if they have completed at least 7 hours of substantive and procedural training in landlord-tenant law or 3 hours for attorneys.
(5) Municipal Court. The Superior Court Assignment Judge in each vicinage has the discretion to approve mediators for Municipal Court matters under his or her jurisdiction.