or even reach out to an institutional provider to determine the
conflicts of interest that are likely to arise.
The Tech Savvy Practitioner
ADR providers and practitioners are becoming increasingly technology-driven, which will increase the use of online
dispute resolution tools. Technology is an essential area of
expertise for all ADR providers. We must keep current with
state of practice to resolve parties’ increasingly complex disputes and not put anyone’s security at risk. For example,
the application of the blockchain is anticipated to extend far
beyond financial services and into legal and dispute resolution.
Practitioners should stay current in how technology is evolving and the introduction of smart contracts (Elue and Larsen).
Our field that requires ongoing training, which may be found in
institutional providers, trainers, universities, colleges, conferences, and many other sources.
Flexibility in ADR Practice
Like many others, I have provided services through multiple
forums. I began by establishing a small non-profit community
mediation program, held a position managing ADR programs
in two Florida Circuit Courts, and eventually joined the American Arbitration Association, where I am a Commercial Vice
President in Miami, Florida. Each position allowed me to build
on skills I had and develop new skills in areas I had not even
envisioned earlier in my career. I do not mediate full time as
I had initially envisioned, but I use mediation skills and other
ADR skills every day.
New practitioners lament how difficult it is to make money
as a full-time mediator when it is such a competitive field.
My response has generally been that it is best to learn a
wide variety of ADR skills and be responsive to opportunities which fulfill your initial vision. Parties are in need of ADR
education, systems design, ADR tools, and consulting. This
kind of flexibility demands a repeated return to the original
vision, as opposed to being reactive to market and technology fluctuations.
Diversity of Experience and Thinking
Successful practice relies not only on diversity of skills, but
Looking to Institutions
also on diversity of thinking and experience. Some forms
of ADR lack the benefit of diverse practitioners, even when
parties themselves are diverse. As more women and diverse
practitioners enter fields of ADR that were not previously
welcoming, we can hope to see greater authenticity, social
and emotional intelligence, and creativity used to resolve
disputes. Authentic and diverse ADR skills, based on ethical
principles, revitalize practice and discourse. The emergence
of diverse thought leadership groups and committees, such
as the American Bar Association’s Women in Dispute Reso-
lution (WIDR) Committee, not only supports women and
minorities, but champions an inclusive environment.
I will not include a long list of institutional providers, large
and small, for profit and non-profit, court and community,
domestic and international. A quick internet search will provide
users many ADR options. What I will suggest is that there is
an opportunity for alliance between sole practitioners and the
institutions, even if one is not by nature a joiner There is a great
deal of impetus for ADR institutions to collaborate, but the private practitioner also has distinct insights into the networks of
relationships within the field.
Likewise, the systems learning that institutions amass can
provide a treasure trove of information for all ADR practitioners. As an example, institutions generally have limited roster
openings, based on the market and the trends in populations
or industries they serve. Specialization emerges after careful study and experience over time, resulting from studies and
trial and error. We can look to ADR institutions as experimental labs, learning from both success and failure, as centers for
thought leadership and as harbingers of ADR market trends.
In other words, there is a great deal of process data, based on
institutional studies, that is available to practitioners.
According to MacFarlane’s study of mediators, practitioners
must constantly make complex process choices that raise
issues well beyond those commonly addressed by ethical
guidelines. Most institutions also have outward-facing sources
of data and information. For example, the American Arbitration
Association has an On Demand Recorded Webinar Library of
over 100 titles, some of which are free. In addition, an internal
group of quick responders called ADR Scholars addresses academic inquiries received through customer service or staff. As
individual practitioners develop their unique processes, there
are ready resources in the many institutions that have accumulated volumes of educational resources.
In addition to educational tools, many institutions are providing single services to parties and practitioners. For instance,
AAA’s A la Carte Services include management of finances for
private disputes, mediator or arbitrator selection, and resolving objections to arbitrators or locale disputes. As ADR users
become more savvy, institutions have evolved to supplement
the users’ own processes. Providing flexibility and a menu of
services is not simply an option, but speaks volumes about
where commercial ADR is headed – dispute resolution processes that can be tailored to fit complex, fast-changing social
systems and industries, giving greater control and transparency to a more educated ADR user. There is a growing
assumption that users are comfortable with technology and
are, in fact, looking for the best in technology to improve efficiency and security.