Joining a Roster
If joining the roster of an ADR institution is your objective, there are some considerations. Some institutions
have multiple rosters that allow for newer practitioners,
but there are likely to be specific qualifications needed.
Some may include education and training, honors, awards,
citations indicating leadership, publishing, professional
association memberships, leadership qualities, and other
relevant accomplishments. The applicant will need to
demonstrate an ability to perform in a neutral role, have
an acute awareness of internal biases, and be diligent in
making proper disclosures. Another important skill is the
ability to evaluate and apply legal, business, or industry
standards, depending on the type of dispute. Regardless
of the practice area, the ability to demonstrate good critical thinking, particularly in terms of process management,
is likely required. Moreover, one cannot discount having a
solid reputation among peers. To the institution, there is no
better indicator of quality practice than one’s consistent
demonstration of integrity, fairness, and good judgment.
Letters of recommendation should include these qualities
as central to one’s practice.
Like any house, a good foundation is key and in ADR,
education is essential. My own degree is a Ph.D. in Conflict
Resolution Analysis and Resolution from Nova Southeastern
University, but other degrees can be equally or more beneficial depending on your area of interest and current social
and industry trends. A law degree is suited for business or
commercial dispute. A psychology or social science degree
may be more helpful in family or community disputes. An
advanced degree in any field, such as construction, healthcare, public policy, environment, accounting, or finance, can
be useful in resolving specific industry disputes.
Do not discount the importance of education in the theory that grounds conflict resolution processes and skills. A
working knowledge of conflict resolution theory provides
understanding of how different forms of ADR have developed, yielding deeper insight into the user culture. Knowing
one’s customer in this way can provide a more nuanced ability to meet their needs and forecast future concerns. This
kind of insight can be essential to success in training, education and publishing for the ADR field and the general public.
Looking to one’s own interest and educational strengths is a
pathway to a market, and there is unfortunately no shortage
of conflict in any demographic or industry.
Building the Brand
Finally, no discussion of principled career building can
conclude without considering branding. The keys to effec-
tive branding are authenticity and consistency. Again,
maintaining one’s initial vision and ethical principles can-
not help but build brand consistency. Commitment to the
ADR process includes a willingness to devote time and
effort when selected to serve, a commitment to continuing
education and ethical standards, and a clear focus on the
needs of the marketplace and public. Expertise without
lasting commitment to vision and ethical principles is not
only damaging to a practitioner’s reputation, but potentially
harmful to participants.
Private ADR practice does have some advantages. There
is greater flexibility to be quickly responsive and to design
unique processes and targeted pricing. There is much support available to practitioners given the emergence of new
ADR technology platforms and software. Calendaring, billing, advertising, accounting, and child support software
have become user- friendly and integrated. Web marketing, including publishing, blogging, analytics, and a strong
web presence is one of the greatest equalizers. However,
building a successful practice takes patience and consistency. A mentor can be invaluable in keeping an ADR career
on track. Once practitioners have achieved even a modicum
of success, mentoring others should be an ethical obligation. Sharing ADR expertise through teaching, co-mediation,
and observation, can be the most rewarding aspect of being
member of the ADR community of practitioners.
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