DRC recruits a diverse group of volunteer mediators who are trained in conflict resolution, communication, and the mediation process. Currently, over 100 people – including attorneys and law students – volunteer with DRC. In-service training is provided each year to assist mediators in receiving the continuing education they need to maintain their status as qualified neutrals under Rule 114 of the MN General Rules of Practice. Volunteer-recognition events and get-togethers held throughout the year assist in building relationships within the organization. DRC has developed a reputation in the mediation community for high-quality training and continuing education programs. DRC has other opportunities for volunteering including outreach, serving on committees, helping administrative support and more.
Becoming a Volunteer Mediator
Becoming a volunteer requires a series of steps, which you can learn about below.
Step 1 – Learn About Mediation
DRC mediators are specially trained community volunteers who reflect the population of the communities served. The primary responsibility for any resolution rests with the participants. Mediators are neutral and do not decide who is right or wrong or give opinions on the issues. Mediators ensure that the session is conducted in a safe and respectful manner and that everyone has a chance to be heard. Mediators assist people in conflict to make practical, informed decisions by working to:
- Help define and clarify their ideas, issues and goals in the session
- Facilitate communication and explore mutual understanding of the issues and feeling in a conflict
- Explore options and alternatives for resolution and reach a satisfactory agreement
Top 10 Reasons to Volunteer with Dispute Resolution Center
- Promote mediation
- Develop mediation skills
- Interesting people, interesting conflicts
- Build your resume
- Explore career options
- Training opportunities – Continuing Legal Education credits (CLEs), Continuing Education credits (Rule 114 Roster), certified training, interesting workshops
- Network, network, network!
- Do good in your community
- Work alongside people with lots of experience in dispute resolution
- Experience the satisfaction of helping folks effectively resolving conflict
Step 2 – Training
Our volunteer mediators are required to complete a certified 30-Hour General Mediation Skills Training (sometimes called Civil or Basic Mediation Skills Training) before they can volunteer with DRC. Many centers around the Twin Cities Metro Area offer the 30-Hour course. DRC also provides post-decree family mediation – we do not mediate custody or divorce. Our volunteer family mediators are required to complete a certified 20-Hour Family Bridge Mediation Skills Training, or a certified 40-Hour Family Mediation Skills Training before they can mediate family conflicts. If you would like assistance finding a training course or you would like a recommendation, please do not hesitate to contact DRC at (651) 292-7791.
Step 3 – Read Qualifications
Review the following qualifications and responsibilities:
- Successful completion of an approved 30-Hour General Mediation Skills Course under Rule 114 of the Minnesota General Rules of Practice
- Strong communication skills and ability to relate to/work with a diverse client population
- Ability to work cooperatively with other mediators, staff, board members
- Second language skills desired but not required
- Honor commitments and conduct mediations as scheduled by the Director of Mediation Services
- Establish and maintain a safe environment for parties during sessions
- Facilitate and encourage dialogue between parties to allow for the open discussion of issues, while empowering parties to explore possible solutions and work toward developing a mutually acceptable resolution
- Provide feedback to staff and co-mediator upon conclusion of mediation session(s)
- Complete all necessary forms and send to DRC office in a timely manner
- Apprise DRC staff of any unique challenges or issues that may arise during a mediation session
- Represent DRC in a respectable and accurate manner
- Participate in performance evaluations conducted by DRC
- Complete six (6) hours of continuing education per year
Step 4 – Volunteer Application
Step 5 – Orientation
Orientation is designed for individuals who have completed (or are taking) a 30-Hour General Mediation Skills Training and would like to volunteer as mediators for the Dispute Resolution Center in the Second Judicial District Courts. This is an opportunity to serve your community through the application of your basic mediation skills training.
Step 6 – Apprenticeship
There is no difference between a court mediator and a community mediator, the same principles apply to both. DRC requires that new volunteer mediators attend a courthouse orientation session hosted by DRC to familiarize them with the court setting. Following the orientation, the new mediators are prepared to begin their apprenticeship with DRC. There are four steps to the apprenticeship:
- Observe an experienced mediator in a mediation
- Co-mediate with an experienced mediator
- Solo mediate
- Solo mediate while being observed by an experienced mediator.
After being observed, the experienced mediator provides the new mediator with some feedback. The new volunteer mediator can complete the apprenticeship in four mediation sessions, or, if the new mediator needs some more time to become comfortable with the process, the new mediator can repeat any step of the apprenticeship process.