The Ins and Outs of Mediation with Brian James

Brian James, the founder and lead mediator at C.E.L. & Associates, is here to help us understand the ins and outs of mediation.


We’re delighted to sit down with Brian James, a seasoned Divorce and Family Mediator based in Chicago with offices across Chicagoland and Southeastern Wisconsin. As the founder and lead mediator at C.E.L. & Associates, Brian brings over two decades of experience to his practice and has dedicated his career to helping families navigate divorce and domestic conflicts.

He’s here today to talk about the mediation process, highlighting its benefits, misconceptions, and how it differs from traditional litigation. Throughout our conversation, he shares some of the unique challenges women might face in divorce, the essential questions they should ask their mediators and the importance of financial education. Brian aims to equip women with the tools they need to navigate divorce confidently, so they can make well-informed decisions and receive the support and guidance they need.

We learned so much from Brian in this episode and are excited to dive into this topic with you!


Here’s some of what we discuss in this episode:


  • What is mediation and how is it different than hiring an attorney?
  • The typical timeframe for mediation + how Brian works with families to navigate finances during this process
  • The questions that women should ask when consulting with a mediator
  • Managing client expectations during the mediation process + avoiding emotional decisions that might lead to regret
  • When is it better to work with an attorney?
  • What working with Brian looks like, typical costs of mediation, and Brian’s advice for our listeners


Learn a little more about Brian:


Brian James, a seasoned Divorce and Family Mediator, established C.E.L. and Associates, Inc. in 2005, serving Chicagoland and Southeastern Wisconsin.

Brian holds a B.S. in Sociology from Northern Illinois University (1994) and received Mediation and Conflict Resolution training at Northwestern University.

For a decade, Brian worked in the Criminal Justice System, aiding domestic violence and divorcing families in resolving conflicts and facilitating healing post-life-altering events. His approach to mediation is client-driven. By aiding his clients with the resolution of their divorce issues outside of the courtroom, Brian helps create a win/win situation for all parties in a divorce.

His mediation style not only resolves immediate issues but equips clients with conflict-resolution skills for the future, emphasizing problem-solving, empathy, and informed decision-making.

Brian recently celebrated 27 years of marriage to his wife Cindy. They have two boys, Connor, age 25 forever, and Evan, age 22. Connor and Evan are the C. and E. in C.E.L. & Associates, Inc.


Episode Links:


Where you can find Brian:

Brian on social media