John J. Upchurch is president of Upchurch Watson White & Max, a mediation specialty firm with offices in Daytona Beach, Fla., and Maitland, Fla. A former judge, he has mediated full time since 1988. He is a founding fellow of the American College of Civil Trial Mediators and a member of the CPR Institute’s Panel of Distinguished Neutrals. Earlier versions of this article appeared in his firm’s newsletter.
By 2001, two distinct trends have emerged after 13 years of offering mediation services under Florida’s groundbreaking mediation statute and procedures.
First, a select few mediators have become industry leaders. Because most attorneys insist on having an experienced, reputable mediator for significant cases, these highly skilled mediators are fully booked. Fees for this elite group range from $275 to $450 per hour and higher.
Conversely, there is a large pool of trained, certified mediators who have been unsuccessful in developing a reasonable demand for their services. Even at entry-level fees of $125 an hour, these mediators have failed to attract many cases.
Why the imbalance, and why is the market so resistant to adjustment?