Ellice Halpern, JD
What qualities should a successful mediator have?
People seeking mediation are under a lot of stress. Conflict—whether it’s a disagreement among family members or neighbors, landlords and tenants, or business partners—is difficult. Therefore, it’s important to create a warm and welcoming environment and to be empathetic, kind and compassionate. Attentive listening and strong communication skills are vital as are patience and the ability to maintain neutrality. Establishing trust with clients is essential. Divorce is a major source of stress and can be as traumatic as death, illness and unemployment. So, I know my clients need a rapid response from me when they call or email. And while I don’t give legal advice as a mediator, my familiarity with the legal system as a former practicing attorney does benefit my clients.
What has been an unexpected surprise in your career?
Starting my business. In 2010, I became a mediator certified by the Supreme Court of Virginia and then I pursued additional training for family mediation. To gain as much experience as possible, I started mediating a wide variety of court-referred cases. I opened Little Falls Mediation—voted Best Mediator in 2018 by the readers of Arlington Magazine—in 2015 because I was often being asked for my professional advice and, since I wasn’t working with private clients, referring them to the best family lawyers I knew. But I wasn’t happy merely being a resource, I wanted to actually help resolve their issues.
What advice would you offer to women who are just starting out?
Find a mentor and mentor others. I joined Awesome Women Entrepreneurs, an amazingly supportive group of entrepreneurs and business owners of all ages and backgrounds from seemingly every industry, the day after I started my business.
“Find a mentor and mentor others.”