HMP offers Basic Training twice during the academic year, once in the fall and again in February. Each Basic Training offers new trainees 32 hours of mediation skills augmented by mediation theory and plenty of hands-on experience through role-playing. HMP’s Basic Training meets the requirements of Massachusetts law, which allows mediators to practice in Massachusetts’ courts with the protection of statutory confidentiality. (See Massachusetts General Laws, Chapter 233 & 23C.)
Upon completion of basic training, trainees are required to complete a two semester commitment with HMP to mediate in a “designated” court every other week or to mediate cases outside of court such as tenant-to-tenant or animal control disputes. Trainees mediate under the supervision of experienced HMP members, known as HMP’s “liaisons.” HMP mediators mediate small claims cases in five District Courts in the Greater Boston area: Brookline, Cambridge, Chelsea, Malden, and Quincy as well as in the Roxbury Division of the Boston Municipal Court. HMP mediates Harassment Prevention Order cases in the Quincy and Malden District Courts. Out-of-court cases include those referred to HMP from housing developments and from animal control agencies.
Small claims and harassment prevention order (HPO) cases are mediated on the trial date and, if the parties are willing to try mediation, they are assigned two mediators to work with them. HPO cases are screened by a judge for appropriateness. If an agreement is not reached in mediation, the case will return to court and be heard by the magistrate or judge on the same day. HMP’s tenant-to-tenant cases are mediated on-site at the referring housing development.
In addition to HMP’s work in and outside of the court system, HMP welcomes referrals from organizations and individuals. Referrals include landlord-tenant, neighborhood, and other community-related disputes including minor criminal matters.
Fortunately for those wishing to learn mediation skills, programs abound throughout the country. The Association for Conflict Resolution, and the National Association for Community Mediation may help you locate a training program in your area.