When I first started as a divorce mediator, I really had no model of how to conduct myself and my practice. I would interview prospective clients over the phone, try to answer questions and tell them how we were going to cooperate and work this out together at the mediation session.
About 30% of the people that called became mediation clients. Not a very good batting average. Certainly not good enough for the major leagues.
Instead of the “phone” consultation, I started offering a free “in-person” consultation and quickly saw the advantages. This gives the mediator and the potential clients an opportunity to meet each other face-to-face and see if they can make a connection. Even more than that, as the mediator, I gain an insight into their relationship and the dynamics of their family.
The consultation isn’t just a meet and greet; it’s really an opportunity for me to prepare my clients for the mediation, such as answering:
Do we have to get values for property or some other asset?
If there is a buy out, can one party qualify for a refinance?
Do they need to create a budget to see if their decisions for moving forward are economically feasible?
The free consultation also reduces the number of mediation sessions needed. Some mediators might not like that last aspect because they are losing fees, but the consultation greatly benefits the clients. It really gets them involved in the mediation process and encourages them to start doing some investigating on their own, as opposed to the mediator just talking to them and telling them things they need to know.
Almost every client that has come in for a consultation has said how important and worthwhile they thought it was and how much they appreciated me taking the time to do it.
The free divorce mediation consultation also demonstrates to clients my commitment to the mediation process. It is indeed a better plan for mediator and clients alike.