Dear LA Mediators
So you want to join a panel? We packed the house again, and obviously this question is high on the list for the professional mediator.
Thanks again to our panelists, Rosemarie Chiusano of Judicate West, Carry Sarnoff of PMA, and Kym Adams of IVJC, and to Judicate West for hosting our meeting. We had three different perspectives on the issue, and I think everyone was taking the solid advice given to heart.
One theme came up a couple of times: a book of business. Joining a panel like Judicate West or PMA is going to require you to bring a book of business to the table. Getting a book of business has the same challenge as hooking a mediation--you've got to develop a "fan base" of clientele who recommend you on their short list of preferred mediators. How you do that has been a focus of LA Mediators, and will continue to be the subject of our meetings.
Another theme came up: relationships. Providers are looking for a relationship with their panelists. Whether it's a smaller size group of mediators like PMA, or a medium sized group like JW, the name of the game is building relationships. A provider is going to invest their time and money in you, and you are going to be part of their team. So after you've got the attention of a provider with the work you've been doing, the next level is determining if you are a good match with the culture of the provider.
My advice: if you're interested in joining a particular provider, take the time to meet the people who are affiliated with them. The staff of course is the backbone of the organization, and the other neutrals will be the neutrals with whom you will develop synergy, even though you're not co-mediating. If you feel right about it, then I think the chances are good that you will create a successful partnership with the provider.
Most importantly, think about the experience your customer will have coming to the provider's facility. While a provider normally cannot make the environment customized to your personality, the general surroundings and professionalism of the staff sets the tone for the mediation and is a reflection on you as the mediator. You want your customer to want to come back. The combination of a great mediator and comfortable surroundings with make the experience satisfying for them.
So our next meeting will be at Charles' house in Woodland Hills. I know he is cooking up something special for our last meeting before the summer break. Stay tuned for more details...