Information to Review
Virginia is one of a handful of states that requires mentorship, in addition to classroom training to certify as a court-referred mediator. During mentorship the mentee must observe mediations and conduct mediation sessions with the assistance of a mentor. Briefings, before and after each observation and co-mediation, are required to allow mentors to assess the mentee’s understanding of the process and his/her performance (if the mentee co-mediated). They are also intended as teaching opportunities and they should include a discussion of the nature and handling of the case, the use of special techniques, and encourage questions. The mentee should plan to increase his/her participation over the course of the co-mediations. The final co-mediation should be largely conducted and lead by the mentee with support only as-needed from the mentor.
Mentees must also complete a settlement agreement (acting as scrivener for the parties) during one of the co-mediations. A copy of this signed agreement must be included in the mentee’s application for certification. Cases need not end in agreement in order to count as “completed” mediations. Please see the Mentorship Guidelines for more details on what counts as a “completed” mediation for certification purposes.
The Virginia Supreme Court, Office of the Executive Secretary, Dispute Resolution Services (DRS), grants certifications. Their decision to grant or deny certification greatly relies on the honest and detailed evaluation of mentees provided by the mentors. After each observation and co-mediation, mentors are required to provide a written assessment detailing the mentees performance as co-mediator or their understanding of the process if he/she was an observer. These assessments must be included in the mentee’s application for certification.
The basic components of General District Court (GDC) level mediator certification are:
- Completion of a DRS approved 20-hour Mediation Skills basic course. Successful completion of this course is a prerequisite to case observations.
- Completion of a DRS approved Role Play course or two case observations of a mentor-mediator. Successful completion of the Role Play course or observation sessions is a prerequisite to co-mediations. The mentor should prepare a Verification of Observation form for each completed observation.
- Completion of at least three co-mediations with at least two different mentor-mediators (a mentor may suggest, and DRS may require, additional co-mediation sessions on a case-by-case basis). The mentor should prepare a Mentee Evaluation form for each completed co-mediation, and the mentor and mentee should collaboratively fill out the relevant section(s) of the Mentee Portfolio
- Completion of a DRS approved 4-hour Introduction to the Virginia Judicial System course. This course may be taken in any order relative to the other three requirements (waived for members of the Virginia bar).
A maximum of two co-mediations per day may count toward certification. The mentee must provide the mentor with the Mentee Portfolio forms completed by prior mentors (in previous co-mediations) before the start of the scheduled co-mediation. If the mentee does not provide these forms, the mentee may not co-mediate that day. They may serve as an observer. Please expect to wait two weeks between co-mediation dates for proper reflection time and mentors to file appropriate paperwork.
The entire certification process must be completed within a 24-month period, timed from completion of the mentee’s 20-hour basic training program. For more information on the mediator certification process, please see the Mentorship Guidelines on the DRS website. (http://www.courts.state.va.us/drs/certification_process/mentor_info.html)
Mentees must keep all completed forms received from mentors and are responsible for submitting all required paperwork to the DRS for certification. DRS relies on the recommendations that mentors make on every Verification of Observation, Mentee Evaluation, and Mentee Portfolio form. All of the forms must be submitted (regardless of the nature of the feedback) with the mentee’s application. The required forms include:
- Training Evaluations from required courses – Form ADR 1006
- Verification of Observation Forms – Form ADR 1007 or Training Evaluation from the Mediation Practicum: Federal and Commercial Roleplay class (the NVMS Roleplay course)
- Mentee Portfolio Forms- Form ADR 1008
- Mentee Evaluation Forms- Form ADR 1001
- Copy of any agreement for which the mentee served as primary scrivener, with the signatures of the parties
Relevant documents to review as you progress through your mentorship.