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Posted on Jul 17, 2012 in Student Spotlights

4 Tips for Starting a Private Practice as a Non-Attorney Mediator

mike pierceAfter 30 years in located ministry, Mike Pierce decided to pursue his dream of building his own mediation practice.  The first step was enrolling in ACU’s Master of Conflict Resolution and Reconciliation (MACRR) program.  And, because of its online platform, Mike was able to take most of his classes from his home in Chicago.

When asked what motivated him to make this career change, Mike said,

“I was appalled at the difficulty churches had in facing conflict effectively.  I was also broken-hearted over seeing people drained from legal system – particularly in marriage dissolution.”

Hoping to help people reconcile important relationships and find honest and effective resolutions to their disagreements, Mike recently graduated from the MACRR program and is setting up his private mediation practice.  Starting a private practice can be a daunting task.  However, Mike is already seeing his practice take root.  Because of his success, we asked Mike to share some tips for others who are undertaking the same venture.

  1. Network yesterday, network some more today and plan on networking tomorrow. Most of my client base is coming from referrals, and the more cases I complete, the broader my referral base becomes. In addition, I am constantly introducing myself to attorneys, professionals and others who are generally clueless about the benefits I offer.
  2. Promote yourself. After all no else will. Some marketing is necessary; however, I don’t depend on one approach, one market segment, or one brochure.  I have specific plans for targeting church leaders, other strategies for finding supportive therapists, and yet other plans for the business and legal fields.[As a side note, it is helpful to have a master’s degree in conflict resolution as opposed to only a 40-hour course in mediation. It provides credibility to the therapists and attorneys who are proficient in a related field. While 40-hour mediation courses are very helpful for professionals in other fields who are wanting to learn how to do mediation, the master’s is helpful in establishing your own mediation practice as a non-attorney.]
  3. Remember your target.  I’m not targeting people in conflict, but the people to whom people in conflict turn.  I don’t necessarily need to find that client who needs a mediator, but I do need to find the person my future client is looking to for help. As I become a resource for other professionals who believe I will effectively assist their clients in crisis, I will start building referrals.
  4. Keep training. Like sports figures in the off season, beginning mediators have lengthy idle time between mediations. Further, when a mediation is in the works, it should reasonably occupy just a few hours of my week. In this in between time, I have another job to support myself.  Still, I carve out time to flex my mental muscles.  To avoid atrophy, I read a lot, attend continuing education opportunities and conferences, and stay abreast of the literature. The time will come, hopefully, when I will be too busy to do these things as often as I doing them now. However, that will mean I’m honing my skills in the workplace.

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