There is a question that I get very frequently whenever I go to an ADR networking event, especially from people who are starting up, or this might be their first event to attend and they want to break into the ADR realm, the question is “How do I start?” or “How to get my first appointment?” And before attempting to respond to that question, I would like to say, I didn’t “make it” yet, and each journey is different, mine happens to be not the most conventional, but that made me a very well versed person in trying to start in ADR. I will try to keep this short, practical and to the main points that I think would benefit any new comer to the field, and hopefully avoid some of the mistakes that I did or still doing.

1- Build up your knowledge arsenal

ADR is a vast and complex subject, which is filled with specific steps and process that would vary from country to country, and center to center. You will need to be very knowledgeable about it, but getting certified or getting a degree or a course to start building up your portfolio with is a must. There are a lot of courses being offered about ADR, research the courses well, always choose a reputable and acknowledged provider, the last thing you want to happen is to pay a big investment – those courses are not cheap – on a subpar course that is not going to add any value to your knowledge or profile. Invest in your knowledge and invest in the ADR career that you would like to achieve.

2- Join ADR Organizations/ Centers

I found a huge shift in my trajectory once I started joining ADR organizations, there are a few of internationally recognized ones, or if you wish to join a local center it would also be a great benefit to you, which will allow you to start doing the third and very important step.

3- Network… Network … Network…

A very wise person told me when I started up my journey in ADR, that networking and social skills are the key to getting recognized, and start to become a familiar face to fellow ADR practitioners and law firms. ADR is a practice that is build on your personal work ethics and how you are perceived, that trust and perception needs time, patience and certain level of familiarity for people to start taking a chance on you. Don’t be shy and don’t back down, go to those events, network, let your self be known and seen.

4- Persist

There is no way around this, an ADR career and journey is similar to a marathon, pace your self, get in it for the long run, don’t shy away from small roles, shadowing opportunities, free of change services, they will all add to you eventually. As a dear friend always says “its never a matter of if, it is a matter of when”, once you have that mind set, you will reap the benefits.

5- Find a mentor

And if you are lucky, a mentor will find you! There are so many supportive people in the ADR community that believe in mentoring, guiding and helping young practitioners. Keep your mind open and listen, you will learn something from everyone you speak to, even if it doesn’t seem like it in the beginning.   If you are passionate about Alternative Dispute Resolution you will enjoy every step of the way, the good parts and not so good ones. I hope those steps are helpful, and I am sure as my journey progresses so will my points of view on how to start will, and I will update this post.