A number of factors should be considered when selecting a mediator. (For a great article outlining the steps to choosing a qualified mediator, go to https://www.mediate.com/articles/choose.cfm.) After finding several mediators that meet your criteria, however, you and your opposing party must select a mediator together.
One strategy for choosing a mediator acceptable to both parties is for each party to propose two or three mediators based on a review of the Utah State Court roster of mediators, internet-based research, or referrals from lawyers, therapists, or friends. If the parties’ lists each include one or more of the same mediators, then the search process can be limited to those mediators. If the lists are not duplicative, then each party might select one name from the other’s list and from there, the parties can reach out to the mediators together. Most mediators are willing to meet with potential clients together in a consultation session or to talk with potential clients individually over the phone. Mediators generally do not engage in in-person consultation sessions with one party to protect against the appearance of partiality or bias.
While no guarantees exist for the ethics of human beings, most mediators recognize that performing under the shroud of bias or favoritism will quickly destroy one’s business. Still, for those potential clients who are self-represented, I recommend a joint effort once the initial list of possible mediators is parsed down to a manageable number. Sending an email to a mediator–that is copied to the opposing party–requesting information, individual brief telephone consultations, or a joint in-office consultation ensures that the process is transparent and that there is no appearance of bias or “back-room” agreements.