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Professional Mediator Jerry A. Kessler

Full-time Professional Mediator.

Mediation Is My Passion

I Am A Full-time Professional Mediator

Professional Mediator Jerry A. Kessler

Mediation is a distinct profession. While a knowledge of the law, finance, family dynamics, and child development are important, it is mastery of conflict resolution that is key. Unlike many who hold themselves out as mediators, I do not “dabble” in mediation as a sideline or as something to do in retirement after a career in law. Lawyering (and serving as a judge) do not necessarily translate into mediation skills and are sometimes a detriment to those who attempt to switch roles.

As a mediator, I have attended numerous advanced mediation training, an internship, and hundreds of hours of workshops on mediation. I have augmented skills by completing course work at the Chicago Center for Family Health on couples counseling and family systems, and regularly attend multidisciplinary conferences involving families, child development, and mental health. I am well-versed in the literature and research on divorce and conflict resolution. Based on my experience and training I am often sought to mediate other types of disputes, including EEO, Americans With Disabilities Act cases, family business disputes, probate disputes, school disputes, job disputes, disputes arising in and between not-for-profits, contracts, and adult guardianship disputes.

I have received extensive advanced mediation training and I have trained many others in the art of mediation. I have mediated over 2,000 disputes over the last 25 years. People seek mediation at a time of crisis. Seek out a genuine professional mediator.

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Admitted to Practice, Illinois, 1973. The practice of Mediation, 1991- present (approximately 95% of the practice, over 2,000 mediations); the general practice of Law, 1975 – present. Mediation of business, probate, guardianships, EEO (USPS and Social Security Administration), ADA (panel member for Key Bridge Foundation, under contract with U.S. Dept. of Justice for mediation of Title II & Title III ADA cases), commercial disputes, agriculture (USDA) disputes, divorce, post-divorce, and commercial disputes.

Convener and Supervisor – monthly mediation case consultation group, Lake County, Illinois, for experienced mediators, 2006 – present.

  • Advanced Practitioner Member, Association for Conflict Resolution, Approved Panelist for ACR referral list;
  • Founding Member and Advanced Practitioner Member, Academy of Professional Family Mediators;
  • Certified Mediator, Probate, Civil and Family panels, 19th Judicial Circuit, Lake County, Illinois;
  • Approved Panel Member, Mediation Council of Illinois Referral Service and Lake County Bar Association Mediation Program
  • United States Postal Service REDRESS Program since 1999
  • Key Bridge Foundation, Washington, D.C., Mediation of Americans with Disabilities Act claims since 1996
  • Agriculture Mediation Program, U.S.D.A., certified program for Illinois (mediation of USDA programs such as environment, contract disputes, land use, lending, housing)
  • Center for Conflict Resolution, Chicago, mediation of cases for Illinois Department of Human Rights and Circuit Court of Cook County
  • Federal EEO claims for the Social Security Administration.

Incorporator, Founding Secretary, Fellow and Founding Secretary, Collaborative Law Institute of Illinois.

Recently awarded 2017 Super Lawyer and Leading Lawyer.


J.D., University of Chicago Law School, 1972.

B.A., University of Chicago, (Special Honors, Political Science), 1969.

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(847) 367-4500


Although I am well-versed in the law, I do not tell people what to do. I focus on the parties’ needs and interests, and assist them in reaching their own terms. Mediation is a process. There are various steps involved. I follow a mainstream model of mediation – it is applied in all sorts of disputes -, including: divorce, job, commercial, civil rights, and environmental disputes. Much of the process is an outgrowth of the celebrated Harvard Project on Negotiation. I adjust the process to fit the needs of each couple – I do not use a cookie-cutter, one-size-fits-all approach.

Specifically, my theoretical model consists of the following steps:

  • Intake – I meet with people individually to get a sense of the conflict and to determine how to best tailor the process for the parties. We then proceed to meetings with both parties present.
  • Identifying the issues that must be resolved in order to reach an agreement.
  • Gathering the information needed to address the issues (e.g. , in a divorce situation – financial records, tax returns, business valuations, school calendars, estimated hypothetical budgets for separate households – whatever level of detail and information that either party needs in order to be informed).
  • Reviewing the information to make sure everyone understands it and is comfortable with the scope and supporting documentation
  • Brainstorming options to address the issues that need to be resolved.
  • Discussing the options. The options acceptable to both parties become part of the final settlement agreement. Financial and parenting issues are treated separately in the mediation agreement.

In a divorce context, the mediation agreement (after a thorough review by attorneys when people are represented) is made a part of the divorce judgment and becomes a binding court order.


  • I have hosted and supervised a monthly case consultation group for other mediators for the past 10 years.
  • Advanced Mediation Training, Perri Mayes co-presenter, Carbondale, Illinois July 29, 2016 for Dispute Resolution Institute, Inc.
  • November 12-13, 2015, Co-trainer and coach, University of Wisconsin-Madison, Continuing Studies, Basic Mediation Training.
  • American Academy of Matrimonial Attorneys, Advanced Mediation Training, November 7-8, 2015, Chicago, Illinois.
  • Advanced Training for 19th Judicial Circuit Mediators, July 30, 2015, Waukegan, Illinois.
  • “Triage of New Clients for ADR” Association of Family and Conciliation Court, Illinois Chapter, Chicago, October 7, 2014.
  • “Introduction to the Role of Parenting Coordinator”, co-presenter, Annual Conference of the Mediation Council of Illinois, Harper College, Palatine, Illinois, May 3, 2013.
  • February, 2013, Confidentiality in Mediation,” Lake County Bar Association.
  • “Voluntary Mediation Program” for McHenry County family Law Judges and Mediation Committee, Woodstock, Illinois, January 31, 2013.
  • October 28, 2011, “Mediation Ethics”, McHenry County Bar Association and Family Mediation Advisory Council, McHenry, Illinois.


  • Adjunct Professor of Law, Mediation and Negotiation, ITT-Chicago Kent College of Law, 2008 -present
  • Visiting Lecturer, undergraduate, and graduate-level Conflict Resolution, North Central College, 2000-2003
  • Instructor, DePaul University College of Commerce, 1980-1981, 1987
  • Lecturer, Legal Writing and Research, ITT – Chicago Kent College of Law, 1973-1976
  • Assistant trainer, 1994-present, Mediation Training & Consultation Institute;
  • Assistant trainer, University of Wisconsin Professional Extension, Madison, 2013-.present


a) October 1998 and August 2000 – Represented Illinois at the national conference of state and national mediation organizations convened by the Association of Family and Conciliation Courts to review proposed revisions to ABA’s Model Mediation Standards of Practice for family law mediation, Orlando, Florida and Chicago, Illinois.

b) Consultant for McHenry County judges and mediation committee for the establishment of court-annexed volunteer mediation program, January 2013.

c) Judge, International Law School Mediation Competition, Loyola University, Chicago, March 23, 2012, and March 2016.


  • Dispute Resolution Institute, Inc., Advanced Mediation Training, Springfield, Illinois, September 23-24, 2016.
  • Loyola University Law School, Applying Neurobiology in Negotiation and Mediation, Jeremy Lack, Esq., (of Geneva, London, New York), August 16, 2016.
  • Annual Conference, Mediation Council of Illinois, May 6, 2016.
  • Annual Conference, Wisconsin Association of Mediators, March 17-18, 2016, Johnson Creek, Wisconsin.
  • Advanced ADA Training, Key Bridge Foundation, June 11 and 18, 2015.
  • Dispute Resolution Institute, Advanced Mediation Training, September 19-20, 2014, Springfield, Illinois. Prof. C.J. Larkin, Washington University School of Law.
  • Dispute Resolution Institute, Inc., Advanced Mediator Training, Springfield, IL, September 27-28, 2013, Prof. C.J. Larkin, Washington University School of Law.
  • Annual Seminar, Mediation Council of Illinois, Palatine, Illinois, May 3, 2013, (Co-Presenter, Introduction to the Role of Parenting Coordinator).
  • Association of Family and Conciliation Courts, “Nuts and Bolts of Parenting Coordination: Helping High Conflict Parents Resolve Disputes,” March4-5, 2013, Chicago, Joan B. Kelly, PhD.
  • Eldercare/Adult Guardianship Mediation Training, Mediation Training and Consultation Institute, Chicago, November 29-December 1, 2012, Zena Zumeta.
    Dispute Resolution Institute, Inc., Advanced Mediator Training, St. Louis, MO., October 28-29, 2012; Prof. C.J. Larkin, Washington University School of Law, Trainer.
  • Annual Conference, Association of Family & Conciliation Courts, Chicago, June 6-9, 2012;