Mediators and Mediation

Mediators and Mediation

What is Mediation? | Mediator | Multiple Mediators | Court-Ordered & Private Mediation

What Is Mediation? Minnesota Mediation Services, Family Mediation Services

Mediators and Mediation  ( for detailed definition see this link here: Mediation is an interactive process between people in conflict. People or groups (called parties) each explain to a third individual (a mediator) what their problem is. The mediator sets “ground rules” so the parties interact in a respectful way. Then the mediator listens carefully to each party, guiding and interpreting so everyone understands the issues in the dispute. The issues are then explored in a way that encourages the parties to work together rather than face off against one other. Solutions are evaluated and modified so that the final solution works well for each party. Finally, in court-ordered mediation or legal mediation,  the agreement is signed and sent to a judge or a summary of the agreement is signed and drafted into precise legal language and then submitted to a judge.

Mediation may take place with the parties alone ( “Pro Se” parties) or with attorneys present who represent the party’s position clearly. Attorneys most often help the mediation process but in rare cases the presence of attorney(s) actually hinders the mediation.

Glen Bickford (Bickford Mediation) is able to listen carefully and respectfully to each party throughout the mediation. He is not an attorney and will not give legal advice. He does not represent either party but helps the parties work together to find their own solution.


A mediator is usually an individual with specialized training and conflict. Ideally, a mediator is someone who has specialized training in and knowledge of the subject area of the problem being mediated. Hence in the case of divorce, it would appear best to be a mediator who is also a family law attorney.

In practice, however, a good mediator need not necessarily have an extensive knowledge of the subject in dispute. A good mediator depends on the parties  (and/or their attorneys) to understand the subject mediated and the laws involved. By law (in Minnesota, at least) a mediator is not responsible for the party’s or parties’ lack of knowledge during mediation nor agreements reached by the parties without the appropriate information. If there is disagreement on a point of fact or a point of law regarding the problem, it is the parties’ responsibility to gather information necessary to reach agreement.

A good mediator should generally avoid giving advice on a subject in dispute and refer the parties to other sources to adjudicate such a disagreement. Once the appropriate information has been obtained, mediation can be reconvened. In the case of divorce mediation even if the mediator is an attorney, legally as a neutral he or she may not give legal advice to either party.

Multiple Mediators

Having more than one mediator in the mediation can be a great help. If well coordinated, a team of two mediators can gather more information in real time during the mediation that one mediator could. For example, when a party is speaking one mediator can listen intently to the speaker while the other mediator can watch for any reaction in the other party.

It is also advantageous to have one mediator of each sex in traditional divorce mediation as it eliminates claims of bias  based on the gender of the mediator. Likewise, when mediating racial disputes or disputes involving other disparate groups it is useful to have a team of mediators consisting of individuals each of whose racial or other identities match disputants so no individual feels unheard, misunderstood or unrepresented

 Attorney vs. Non-Attorney Mediators

If you decide you wish to mediate privately rather than in a court-suggested or court-ordered process or if you have been ordered to mediation after an initial court hearing you have a full range of options for mediators. You may choose an attorney mediator or a mediator who is not an attorney. An experienced attorney mediator may be expensive but often more able to handle situations that are not black-and-white and which need a gentle manner. Younger attorney mediators are less expensive but sometimes jump to propose a solution to a problem rather than hear parties out fully. some non-attorney mediators are unqualified, have little experience. and these “mediators” may make matters worse through mediation rather than better.

Glen Bickford of Bickford Mediation is not an attorney and is a Minnesota Qualified Neutral. Glen is an experienced mediator. He has been mediating for 20 years in churches and for 6 years with divorcing couples. Glen’s approach is different than many attorney mediators. His experience as an ER and ICU chaplain means he is able to handle stressful and difficult situations with care and with a supportive presence and manner. Glen understands divorces which have complex emotional issues and, if needed, has many attorneys to which he can refer people for divorce representation or for consultation regarding the legal issues of divorce. Whether it’s a Minneapolis divorce mediation, St Paul divorce mediation or a greater Minnesota divorce mediation, Glen can help!