Careers in Alternate Dispute Resolution

Careers in Alternate
Dispute Resolution
Presented by The Lawyers
Assistance Program
Facilitated by Robert Bircher, Nancy
Cameron and Deborah Zutter
Careers in ADR
• Most lawyers go to law school
because of a deep desire to help
people and to make the world a
better place
• Most lawyers are intelligent, good
hearted people who can make a
• Most lawyers find it difficult or
impossible to match their highest
ideals in an adversarial
Careers in ADR
• The traditional adversarial
paradigm with a “combat based”
mentality has been implicated in
studies investigating the poor
mental health of lawyers
• One way around this dilemma is
to change to a different paradigm
• The general area is known as
“Transformational Lawyering”
also known as Renaissance Law
• This includes a number of
models-the best known being
mediation and collaborative law
Careers in ADR
• These models have some common
• Sensitivity to the needs, values,
and highest good of the client,
society , and legal professionals
• Focus on resolution and healing
• Rather than looking to the past
and punishing past transgressions,
the focus is on the future and
reconciling relationships, apology,
forgiveness listening, completion
& moving on
Careers in ADR
• Legal issues are seen in the
context of the relationships with
the parties or in the community,
there is an element of
interconnectedness, wholeness
• The solutions are Win/Win/Winnot just the parties win but the
community as well
• Is this just a pipe-dream? In my
experience these are achievable in
ADR and often are
Training and Credentials
for ADR
• Law society Family Law Mediator
• 3 years as a family lawyer+40
hour course
• C. Med - 80 hours of theory+100
of training+ interview
• Many colleges and universities
now have diplomas and degrees in
• Justice Institute and CLE have
many excellent courses
• Front line experience (mentoring)
is difficult to find
From Learning to Earning
• Many lawyers do a small
mediation practice along with a
regular practice
• Full time ADR lawyers are still
• Practice building requires
marketing and time-mediation and
collaborative law are quite
• Mediators Paradox-the better and
more experienced you are, the less
you make per file since you get
The Dark Side of ADR
• Mediation is very hard work,
especially emotionally
• It is hard to do more than about ½
a day of mediation due to
emotional exhaustion
• Litigation is much more lucrative
• ADR is overcrowded (in some
areas) and thus hard to build a
• You turn $10,000 files into $800
files-great for clients-bad for
billings (see mediators paradox)
The Dark Side of ADR-2
• ADR does not work for every client and
sometimes it is hard to predict
• There are some situations which can
traumatize the clients (although it is hard
to cause a client more trauma than a court
• Poorly trained mediators can produce
unjust agreements if ILA is ignored
• Some clients may use ADR when they
really want to inflict punishment and
revenge (the perfect milieu for that is, of
course, litigation)
• It should be pointed out the above
situations are uncommon
The Bright Side of ADR
• Using a win/win/win system feels
• Clients are satisfied and are
• It is great value for the clients
• If done well compliance rates can
be 95%(vs. 60% for court orders)
• Mediation is very well researched
(the adversarial system is not, it
tends to be supported by dogma
and long discarded psychology)
The Bright Side of ADR-2
• It tends to be fast, you can get
together quickly
• Clients are accountable for their
own conflict resolution
• It tends to have therapeutic value
to the clients (even though for
lawyers this is an artifact) if done
• It tends to reduce future conflict
and emphasize the future not the
• It benefits children in many ways
The Bright Side of ADR-3
• ADR is the future in many areas of law
• The public intolerance of the expense and
delay of traditional litigation will help
“turn the ship”
• Research and training is advancing daily
in this field-the amount of knowledge (of
the psychology of conflict) doubles every
3 years
• Most ADR processes are much less
traumatic than court processes and do
much less psychological damage
• Relapses or relitigation are rare in ADR

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