Quick, answer me this:
What does an alternative dispute resolution professional do?
Chances are, you first thought of mediation and arbitration. Maybe collaborative law, too. If you thought a bit harder, you might have included case evaluation, conciliation, and other forms of negotiation or facilitation.
Obviously you're right, but I want to encourage you to think a bit broader. Think of all the different professional roles that can contribute to a negotiated agreement.
In mediation, for example, there are often more professionals than just the mediator involved. There might be attorneys for either or both clients, offering guidance and analysis even if they're not in the room during the mediation sessions. There might be financial professionals advising one or both clients. Therapists. Life and/or divorce coaches. Estate planning attorneys. When you really start to think broader than just the people at the table, there's a wide range of ADR-related services that professionals of all stripes have to offer.
Why am I pointing this out? Because fear reduces people's ability to think creatively and see possibilities. Specifically, I'm talking about the fear of not being able to make a living. Once you see how many income streams are available in ADR practice, you'll see that you don't have to be afraid of making a living at it.
Suppose you're an attorney who wants to mediate full time, but you're worried you won't be able to find that many mediation clients. Indeed, the burning question at many mediation trainings is, "Can I make a living at this?"
First off, the answer is YES. There are plenty of professionals making a living doing just mediation. There are even for-profit businesses with staffs of multiple mediators. But even if we were to assume that the answer is no, you don't have to give up on setting up an ADR practice. You can provide a variety of ancillary services that help keep your calendar plenty full!
Here are a few ADR-related services to consider in different professions:
- Collaborative Law
- Premarital agreements (negotiated or mediated)
- Limited scope representation (non-litigation)
- Mediation consulting and document review
- Legal consulting, case evaluation, and second opinions
- Post-divorce estate planning
Mental Health Professionals
- Collaborative Law process coaching/facilitation
- Individual therapy
- Individual counseling/coaching
- Collaborative Law financial neutral
- Collaborative Law neutral business appraiser
- Personal/family budget evaluation
- Post-divorce financial planning
Other Professions and Specialties
- Collaborative Law neutral real estate appraiser
- Collaborative Law neutral child specialist
- Mediation and Collaborative Law training
- Peer supervision
I've prepared a guide that you can download below and use to help plan your own practice. Over time, as your practice grows, you'll want to consider paring down the list and becoming more specialized – but for now, I want to encourage you to expand your view of ADR practice and see the many different services (and revenue sources) available to you as an ADR professional!