Why It Is So Important to Find an Experienced, Professional (and Inspiring) Mediation Trainer and Coach

Joan Skudera is an attorney who practices mediation and collaborative law in New Jersey. This is what she learned during her recent training in Los Angeles, California with Forrest “Woody” Mosten.

On February 25th, I had the privilege of participating in a one-on-one consultation with Forrest “Woody” Mosten. I am an attorney and my practice is dedicated to mediation and collaborative law. Although collaborative law is relatively new to New Jersey, I know that attorneys and other professionals have been participating in collaborative law in California and other parts of the country for many years. I knew that Mosten was the author of at least four books, a respected trainer and a popular presenter. With the goal of learning and expanding my mediation and collaborative law practice, I scheduled a one-on-one session with him in California. Mosten had an unbelievable ability to understand my practice and me. With that understanding, he provided me with an abundance of information tailored to my specific needs. As many of you already know, Mosten is an amazing, kind, and generous professional. Regardless of your level of practice, I would highly recommend Mosten’s one-on-one trainings.

I would like to share some of my experiences with Mosten and what I learned before, during, and after my one-on-one session. When I initially contacted Mosten regarding scheduling, he explained that, when a colleague visited with him from out of town, he usually booked four hours — an hour for a meal on him and three hours of consultation. He gave me the choice that if I wished to spend less time, I could unbundle our time and book as little time as I desired at the same hourly rate. I appreciated the choice in programming and chose the four-hour format.

Before the training, Mosten sent me a 22-page peacemaking self-survey. I spent hours answering the questions and realized that I was learning so much before I even met him. By answering the questions, I learned that there were many areas of my practice that I could improve upon. To get the most out of my training, I decided to read two of his books: Collaborative Divorce Handbook: Helping Families Without Going to Court and the Mediation Career Guide. As soon as I started reading the first book, I was sure that I had chosen the right trainer for me. I am pleased to include Mosten’s books as part of my library because they are densely packed with useful information, resources, and a certain humbleness that is so refreshing.

At lunch, Mosten was easy to talk with and, not surprisingly, he was an excellent listener. He spoke about his family, shared some of his client experiences, and discussed techniques for teaching mediation at UCLA. He asked me a few questions and, within a short amount of time, he learned about my family, some of the cases I have been working on, and the story that led me to choose my profession. In hindsight, I think he was trying to learn about my practice and me at lunch so he could tailor the one-on-one session to be most effective for me.

When the one-on-one session began, Mosten became very energetic and began to zone in, ask me questions, and extract information about my practice. I felt comfortable being honest and giving him some answers that I knew he would not like too much. Likewise, I think he shared some information with me that he knew would be difficult for me to receive. Every so often, we would discuss a subject and he would jump up, go to his computer, and send a related document to my email address. During the session, he spoke about the importance of writing, studying, volunteering, and networking.

According to Mosten, writing about my practice would be very effective. He recommended the following: joining the CollabLaw group at Yahoo Groups Listserve; writing a column in a local newspaper (people like to read columns that are specific and not too general); responding to International Academy of Collaborative Professionals “IACP” articles; writing about the cases I work on; and, writing five lessons for each seminar I attend and putting those lessons into practice. It is necessary to prepare a mission statement (include on website), a vision statement, and a business plan. Core personal values should be used to develop my mission statement and key personal attributes should be reflected in my mediation and peacemaking work. Websites are valuable in providing information to others and listing accomplishments. In order to evaluate efforts spent on practice development and education, he advised preparing time sheets for non-billable hours.

Studying mediation, collaborative, and other legal resources is very important. Mosten suggested reading publications such as: The Family Court Review and The Collaborative Review by the IACP. He recommended books such as: Limited Scope Legal Services: Unbundling and the Self-Help Client by Stephanie L. Kimbro; Unbundling Legal Services: A Guide to Delivering Legal Services a la Carte written by Mosten; and, books relating to business plans. He discussed the benefits of participating in study groups and discussing ideas with others.

Volunteering is an excellent opportunity for learning. Mosten commented on the value of joining court mediation programs, working with pro se litigants in the court system, and serving on bar association committees.

Networking and attending trainings are worthwhile activities. Mosten explained that practice development requires an investment of time and money. He suggested I become a member of Association of Family and Conciliation Courts “AFCC” and recommended that I attend that conference and a few others that are being held in the spring. Mosten provided other ideas such as: practicing my “elevator speech” and working with a practice development buddy. He also discussed the importance of being generous with colleagues.

After the training, when I returned home, I was surprised to find over three hundred pages of documents that Mosten had emailed to me during the one-on-one session. Three days after the session, Mosten emailed me to ask me what I had done since our meeting to build my practice. I cannot believe how much Mosten had taught me in one session. When I asked him if I could share some of the lessons he had taught me, he told me that I should share his information with everyone. Mosten stated that mediators and collaborative professionals are a very generous group. If you ever have the opportunity to attend one of Mosten’s sessions, you will gain a wealth of information.

Joan Skudera, Esq.
Midland Park, New Jersey

Online Mediation Skills Development and Coaching After a Mediation Training
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