will be more prepared for what they will experience, and we will
share some common vocabulary, making our work much easier.
As for the impact of increased specialization for professional
conflict resolvers, a few trends seem clear. First, the past ten
years have witnessed the rise of professional organizations
aimed at these narrow areas of practice. There are professional associations at the regional, national, and international
levels which aimed at ombuds, facilitators, conflict resolution
educators in K- 12 settings, higher education conflict resolution, court-based mediators, arbitrators, community mediators,
internationally-focused mediators, and online mediators. More
are cropping up every day. Likewise, there has been an explosion of journals, blogs, newsletters, and magazines which aimed
at these same audiences.
While it is helpful to gather together with others who practice
in the same specialty, if we interact only other specialists we
reduce our exposure to new knowledge, process innovations, or
ethics concerns that may arise first in a different specialty but
apply broadly. By bringing professionals together from diverse
fields, an organization like ACR allows us to learn from each other,
share our challenges, gain new framings and perspectives, and
investigate alternative areas of practice we might want to consider. At the same time, ACR must ensure that there is adequate
specialized content to compete with the offerings of these more
narrowly focused organizations.
Another downside to increased specialization is that the
incomes and livelihoods of these practitioners can become
much more precarious. For example, in 2013 the U.S. economy
ran over the “fiscal cliff,” and the federal sequestering of funds
resulted in the end of many neutrals’ contracts for facilitation,
As ADR/CR practice becomes increasingly specialized and
requires greater content knowledge (e.g., environmental law,
special education rules, etc.), the calls for greater regulation and
barriers to entry increase. Many practice specialties and juris-
dictions already require neutrals to meet certain educational
and training requirements to gain entry to various rosters. These
requirements are likely to increase and become more objective.
They might even use tests or apprenticeships to provide some
quality control to those who are eligible for certain types of work.
This is already common in Europe, where training, education, and
experience standards are typically more formalized and com-
plex than in the U. S.
As both ADR and CR become more widely understood and
more narrowly practiced, it will be critical for those reading this
magazine to take an active part in the evolution of these trends.
Debate and discussion are the precursors to the creation of
policies and financial supports that can shape changes to our
standards of practice and the milieu in which we all operate. I look
forward to what the next ten years will bring and hope to revisit
these pressing questions periodically as we assess where we
came from and where we are headed.
Academy of Advanced Practitioners (AAP)
The Academy of Advanced Practitioners (AAP) was designed to create a membership
status for those members of the organization who desire to have more professional
recognition for their advanced training and experience. For more information and
details about this advanced standing visit our website at www.acrnet.org