When Samantha became aware of the mediation process, her career as a solicitor changed direction and she set up her own mediation business
How did you get your job as a mediator?
After first qualifying as a solicitor, I developed specialist expertise in commercial litigation focusing on private wealth disputes. I decided that I wanted to mediate those disputes so sat the Centre for Effective Dispute Resolution (CEDR) mediation exams and set up my own business, Concentus, offering commercial mediation services.
What's a typical working day like?
I usually travel to wherever in the UK the mediation is taking place the day before. I start the day by reminding myself of the facts, checking the venue and making sure rooms are all laid out for the parties involved.
I start to gently build rapport with each party and might host a joint session for everyone involved to explain what they're looking to achieve through mediation. The rest of the day is spent working on trying to facilitate a resolution of their dispute. The day can end at 7pm or 2am, depending on the complexity of any settlement.
On other days I manage work around looking after my young child, promoting my business, ensuring that new work comes in and potential clients consider appointing me as a mediator. That involves consistent networking, digital marketing, social media activity, raising awareness of mediation, hosting seminars, educating other professionals on the process, writing my blogs, and ensuring I'm fully up to speed on the latest developments, techniques and recent judgments.
It's a full-time role, but I can be as flexible as I need to be now that I’m working for myself.
What do you enjoy most about mediation?
I enjoy helping people achieve a resolution to a dispute that may have affected them for many years. Getting signatures on the agreement at the end of the day brings a real sense of satisfaction.
What are the challenges?
It can be a huge challenge expecting someone to trust you, in a short space of time with sensitive and complicated problems, when they're feeling emotional.
How is your degree relevant?
My law degree gave me the skills and knowledge, as well as the practical insight (by incorporating the Legal Practice Course), to make informed decisions about my career options. It enabled me to become a solicitor and through this I became aware of mediation.
How has your role developed and what are your career ambitions?
It's taken experience, expertise and building my reputation to progress from a solicitor into a neutral mediator role. My ambition is to build my company into a specialist mediation service for all sectors with others who are experts in their field.
What's your advice for someone hoping to become a mediator?
- Be patient - mediation is not a career that happens overnight.
- Build your knowledge and understanding of the process so that it becomes second nature to you.
- Understanding human nature is as important as the dispute itself.