What Does it Take to Become a Dispute Resolution Lawyer?

What Does it Take to Become a Dispute Resolution Lawyer?

When you envision a career as an attorney, you probably see yourself as a lawyer contesting a case in court before a judge and jury. While this is undoubtedly a part of the job, not all cases go to court. Indeed, many are settled before they reach that point.

As dispute resolution and alternative dispute resolution (ADR) will be critical skills you require as an attorney, consider making one of the top ADR programs a part of your legal studies. Here is a closer look at dispute resolution in the legal field and how valuable it is to anyone seeking success in the legal sector:

Dispute resolution explained

Dispute resolution is a way of bringing a legal case to an end without the matter being presented to a court and assigned to a jury for deliberation and a verdict. A conflict or claim is resolved far more quickly when opting for dispute resolution than it would be if you go to court. A court case’s adversarial nature means that witnesses or material persons, including experts, need to be called to provide lengthy testimony. This not only draws out the process for a client, but it additionally costs them a small fortune in legal fees.

Dispute resolution is used in several legal fields, including family, employment, business, housing, neighborhood, personal injury, and consumer law. Where a dispute arises from one party’s failure to adhere to a contract’s stipulations, dispute resolution can provide the parties with legal relief, allowing them to move forward afterward.

As an attorney, you would represent one of the parties to a dispute as their advisor or advocate, depending on your preferred ADR method’s rules. Your responsibility is to ensure that your client’s rights are protected and best served by the arguments you make and decisions you advise a client to accept.

Benefits of ADR

ADR methods save time and money, as mentioned before. It also ensures that parties have a greater amount of control over the process’s outcome. Surrendering a case to a jury is a gamble and could lead to parties being found liable and having to fork out substantial sums to pay what a court prescribes. When observing ADR processes, clients already have a good idea of which way the outcome will go and can prepare accordingly. Additionally, ADR procedures are more relaxed and informal than court appearances before a judge and jury.

Common forms of ADR

Conciliation, or facilitation as it is also known, is the most informal ADR method. It works on an underlying principle of both parties desiring a mutually beneficial resolution to their conflict. During conciliation, a neutral third party works with both sides to negotiate a settlement. In many cases, parties do not even meet as the process takes place via telephonic or electronic contact.

Mediation is more formal than conciliation. An impartial mediator works to find a mutually acceptable solution, which both parties are obliged to consider but may reject if they find it unacceptable. A mediator listens to both sides of a dispute, highlights major issues that form its substance, and proposes options for resolution. Once both parties are satisfied, a mediator assists them in drawing up a binding settlement agreement. Mediation is constructive when parties intend to maintain a relationship after resolving a dispute.

Arbitration takes any decision-making power away from either party to a dispute. Instead, an arbitrator hears the facts and decides an outcome. An arbitrator entertains no negotiations. This ADR method comes in two forms: binding and non-binding. There is no right to appeal an arbitrator’s decision as both parties waive it when they agree to binding arbitration. In non-binding arbitration, either party can opt to proceed to trial if they are unhappy with an arbitrator’s ruling.

Becoming a dispute resolution lawyer

As a student, you need to complete an undergraduate degree. After that, you will write the LSAT exam to gain entry into a law school. By this stage, you will know what field of law you intend to practice, such as family or corporate law. Dispute resolution knowledge and skills will benefit you regardless of which legal field you choose. As so many cases are resolved before getting to court, having the requisite dispute resolution tools at your disposal will leave you well-placed to represent your clients’ best interests.

Various institutions offer alternative dispute resolution courses. Budgetary constraints might be a determining factor in which course you choose. However, ensure that you shop around for the course that offers you the best value for money. Many law schools include practical work as part of their courses, where you will learn the ropes in real-world situations. This invaluable experience will serve you well when preparing your resume and is a demonstrable skill that will make you an attractive employment prospect to law firms.


South Florida Caribbean News

The Team provides news and information for the Caribbean-American community in South Florida and beyond.

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