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Published on: 3/28/2017 11:28 AM
The Office of Human Relations, Dispute Resolution Program offers mediation internship and volunteer mediation panel opportunities to those who have first completed the Program’s 40-hour introductory Mediation Principles and Practice course. For additional information about volunteer and internship opportunities with the Office, please read below.


The Santa Clara County Dispute Resolution Program provides County residents with a means of engaging productively with conflict without having to involve the judicial system. Alternatively, if the judicial system has already been involved, and a court case is currently pending, the alternative dispute resolution (ADR) services of the Program can provide parties with a faster, more comprehensive, and more satisfying solution by empowering them to be the decision makers in the case. Programmatic staff, coupled with trained volunteer mediators, help clients to discuss sensitive issues and to resolve their differences quickly, when such resolution is sought by the parties. Mediation, conflict coaching, facilitation, and conciliation offer a valuable alternatives to the time and expenses associated with litigation.

Volunteer mediators within our Program are required to take our 40-hour mediation training before applying to become a volunteer. Upon completion of the training, there are two types of volunteer opportunity available within the Office: (1) Unpaid internships are a means of putting academic theory learned during a mediation course into the practice environment. An internship is a 250 hour (minimum) in-office intensive experience, designed to be conducted at a pace of roughly 15 – 20 hours per week (based on client and caseload needs) under the direct supervision of a staff mediator and supervisor. The intern will be afforded the opportunity to receive hands-on practical training from several seasoned mediation staff on advanced topics, such as small claims court, probate, unlawful detainer, civil harassment, adult criminal, juvenile delinquency and other substantive fields. The intern will mediate routinely, if not daily, and will be mentored in all practice elements of the profession. An internship is a fantastic opportunity for those seeking to more deeply explore the professional practice of neutrality. (2) Volunteer panel mediators, on the other hand, offer to mediate cases on an occasional basis (no fewer than 4 times per year), and are paired with other mediators (depending on their skill level, subject matter awareness, and prior mediation experience). Mediations may take place during the week, into the evenings, and on weekends. Volunteer mediators will be contacted regarding mediation opportunities based on characteristics, skills, and interests, and may be selected on a first come, first served basis. Volunteer mediators are able to accommodate their desire to practice professional mediation skills whilst maintaining a job, family, and other life obligations. Moreover, volunteer mediators are afforded the opportunity to work with a wide range of other mediators, and are encouraged to take part in the comradery that exists amongst Program mediators. Active volunteer mediators are often provided advanced skills trainings that are offered by the Program on a cost free basis, so as to encourage greater connection with other mediators, and continuing education.

Both types of volunteer opportunity receive active coaching and mentorship in our co-mediation, facilitative model of practice, handling a variety of complex cases. A successful candidate will be prepared to mediate in the following subject matter areas: Community Mediation, Small Claims (Civil Litigation), Civil Harassment, Probate Court, Adult Criminal, Unlawful Detainer, and Juvenile Delinquency Court, to name a few. Panel volunteers may be called upon with short notice, and should ideally have some flexibility in their schedule to accommodate client schedules. Lastly, all prospective volunteers must complete the DRP Volunteer Application and Outside Employment Incompatibility Activities (OEIA) form prior to acceptance into the Program.

To submit an application to apply as a Volunteer Panel Mediator or Intern please email both:

Allyn Kula, Esq. ( and Brohne Lawhorne, JD (

Click on the following links to access the required forms. (1) DRP Volunteer Application and (2) OEIA: Conflict of Interest form must be complete and emailed before your acceptance to the volunteer program in any capacity.

For further questions or inquiries, please contact Allyn Kula at (408) 993-4123