Jobs In Conflict Resolution
Lessons From the Front Lines

I am looking for input for satisfying jobs in conflict resolution outside the typical mediator in private practice, I asked my ADR, Conflict Resolution and Mediation Exchange Group on LinkedIn, the professional networking site.

I continued, "[T]hanks to another posting in this group I decided to research the whole mediator in private practice issue and it was an eye opener. I have a website on conflict resolution and ended up writing a couple of pages debunking the myths around this. If interested they can be found at: Mediation Jobs Myths.

However, there are a LOT of other jobs within conflict resolution without the hype that are very satisfying. My own career path started in law and branched out into training before turning to dispute resolution.

Jobs in conflict resolution is by far the thing my readers most want to know about and generates the most mail. Beside private mediation practice, I want them to know there are lots of other choices.

The Answers

Medical Malpractice Mediation

You hit the nail on the head. I hear many people who would like to be mediators, but don't realize the commitment and time frame necessary particularly if you want to start a private practice. I'm a medical malpractice attorney (former nurse) who has successfully tried and mediated many cases representing plaintiffs.

In the past 3 years I have taken a basic 40 hour course, 30 hours in Divorce Mediation and a 15 week practicum at the Ackerman Institute for Family Therapy, 8 week course in N.Y. Family Law through the Center for Law in Mediation, and now a 60 hour internship doing divorce mediations. I am a certified custody and visitation mediator for the Westchester Mediation Center where I have done about 6 mediations.

I have been looking to intern doing some medical malpractice and health law work, but have yet been able to lock anything down. In two weeks I'm doing a training in health law mediation put on by the AHLA. Fortunately, I am of counsel to the firm where I was a partner so I have a "day" job.

It takes a lot of perseverance and continued training, but I realize that now is the time I have to start advertising and marketing and I'm ready. But, before you plunk down thousands of dollars, think long and hard as to whether you are in a position to do this over the long term. Kathleen P. Kettles


Mediation As Second Career

Like Kathleen, I'm working my way into mediation after a little over a decade as a litigator (insurance defense and commercial litigation) and more than that in a business unit of a large insurance company. I went back and got a Masters in Psychology, have attended numerous mediation and arbitration training sessions and am now on the active mediation roster for the Commercial Division of New York Supreme, New York County as well as being an arbitrator for FINRA.

I've been three years working toward doing primarily ADR work and look to doing it more full time when I leave the insurance company (with a small pension) later this year. As with any job change or life change it takes planning and realistic expectations. Paul G. Huck


School Systems, Parent Groups, Churches and Non Profits

I do a lot of work with parent education through divorce and the impact of conflict on children and families. This is court ordered in Texas. My background is in education and I am constantly asked to come in and work with staff issues, PAC issues, student/peer conflict, consensus building workshops, communication skill development and so on.

I mostly get requests from school systems for staff building and training, but have also started to get some work through churches and non-profits. I try to make personal visits to the Regional offices here in Texas and speak to the person in charge of approving professional development workshops and programs.

In most cases it is all by word of mouth and through presenting at different conferences when the requests come from other agencies. I attempt to find conferences that aren't specifically targeting mediators as audiences but rather other areas that may not realize how mediation/conflict resolution services could dovetail.

The church work has come because of others that have participated at a conference or workshop/consensus building session that have gone back and made a referral to the church leaders or committee. Having a strict ethical mandate to confidentiality, especially in the church trainings and workshops, has really helped since often there is a natural hesitancy to risk their "dirty laundry" getting out in the community.

I am also pursuing coaching certification and hope to move on to conflict coaching specializations. Mardi Winder-Adams, mardi@poscs.com.


Federal, State and Local Government Consulting Work

Having started also as an attorney, I later left the Government and had my own practice. I then joined an environmental not-for-profit firm which engaged in public policy and environmental work. Community engagement work involves many of the traditional mediation skills and is needed these days throughout the country.

With climate change and emergency preparedness needs on the rise, conflict managers and coaches are needed as well. These positions are generally not marketed as ADR/mediator/facilitator positions but the skill sets are very similar and do overlap. Have technical training/expertise in an area that is involved in the engagement or in emergency management processes are ways to break in to these fields.

The work is frequently labeled as consultant work and involves state, local and federal players. I found these positions in consulting firms. Consulting positions in large and small consulting firms as well as public policy not-for-profits. And please know that these positions are very competitive and far and few between. I volunteer when I cannot find the paid work I desire. I mentor and teach others through brown bag lunches and local community organizations. It's not always easy and I love what I do. Don Greenstein, DonGreenstein@gmail.com


ADR Resource Office

I'm an ADR practitioner in Toronto, Ontario (Canada). I started work as a lawyer in private practice and then moved to the provincial government where I worked as a Mediator for the Financial Services Commission of Ontario. I then did my Masters of Law specializing in ADR and after that, started a central ADR resource in the provincial government called the Dispute Resolution Office.

I established my own dispute resolution consultancy in 2000 - and my practice varies depending on the need. Some years I have done primarily system design work for organizations; in other years, the focus of my practice has been on ADR training and mediation. About 3 or 4 years ago, I started to specialize in workplace mediation.

A number of my colleagues practicing ADR in Toronto feel that there's been a decrease in ADR work over the past year - I think that's accurate. I think one has to specialize in a particular field (i.e. employment, insurance etc) to stand a better chance of getting work! It is a tough market out there! The jobs in mediation appear to be limited in number. Elana Fleischmann, elanafleischmann@rogers.com


Diversification

When I became a "neutral" ten years ago, I decided that to get enough work to make it worthwhile, I should do mediation/arbitration in as many venues as possible. I have pursued that course and it has worked pretty well. I am busy. Some say one should find a niche market, in which one is really effective, and become the preferred provider.

The skills required for ADR are applicable and helpful in any field of endeavor. Perhaps one should look at ADR skills as another credential, and pursue the career in which you have an interest and in which you offer recognized qualifications. There is no substitute for passion in pursuit of a goal.

Wally Tanksley at tanksleymediation.com

  • Conflict Resolution Jobs Court ADR Programs
  • Jobs in Conflict Resolution: Lessons From the Front Lines
  • Mediation Jobs Myths, Part One
  • Mediation Jobs Myths, Part Two
  • The bottom line from all of these stories is the same: make a plan, perservere, be flexible! Thank you for visiting Conflict-Resolution-Jobs.com ...I hope it has been helpful in your job search! If you enjoyed this site, and felt it provided you valuable information, please share it with a friend! Please let me know if there are other features you would like to see on the site.

    - Marsha

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