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ADR Personalities and Practice Tips

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Review by: The Alternative Newsletter Editor, James Boskey
Published by:
American Bar Association, Dispute Resolution Section, 740 15th St. NW, Washington, DC 20005-1022. (272pp 1998)

Probably the most common question I receive from attorneys about alternative dispute resolution is “How do I get a job as a dispute resolver or open a mediation/dispute resolution practice?” After warning the questioner not to give up their day job, I usually tell them that in most parts of the country there are few or no salaried jobs for dispute resolvers, and that opening a dispute resolution practice requires both substantial dispute resolution training and skill and the kind of entreprenurial skills and interests, the lack of which is often what is leading them to abandon the practice of law. For those who are not discouraged by this recitation, the problem of describing the nature of a dispute resolution practice or the way in which one can “break into the field” is much more difficult.


ADR Personalities and Practice Tips, edited by Jim Alfini and Eric Galton on behalf of the American Bar Association Section of Dispute Resolution, attempts to answer many of these questions by looking at a wide range of people who have “made it” in the ADR field. In individual chapters, twenty-three leading ADR practitioners each offer a brief description of how they entered the field and some of the best tips and techniques that they have to offer to newcomers.


The range of practictioners and backgrounds included is very broad. For most of them dispute resolution was a second or third career, after they had established themselves in some other profession. For many it was, almost, an accidental choice, clearly meeting their personal goals, but the opportunity was uncovered almost by chance a time when they were able to seek out a new opportunity. In addition to the wide range of backgrounds, one of the most interesting features is the range of settings and fields in which the presenters work. They range from those who are part of traditional law firms, to independent solo practitioners, to government employees. Many are active in the labor and employment areas, but others specialize in family, environmental, commercial and other classes of dispute, though most freely cross lines and are able to apply their skills to a full range of conflicts.


While this book will not fully answer the question posed at the beginning of this review, it will provide the person thinking about changing careers to dispute resolution with a realistic and informed understanding of some of the options that exist and will provide the experienced practitioner with ideas about ways to expand his or her practice.


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