It’s time to focus


Most of us have read at least one article discussing the need for greater diversity in the legal profession. Typically the focus is on law firms needing to diversify their ranks, or the role that inside corporate attorneys can play in encouraging their outside counsel to pay attention to diversity. However, there is a large segment of the legal profession that is not typically included in a discussion of diversity: alternative dispute resolution. According to a report published in 2008 by the Journal of Empirical Legal Studies, somewhere between 80 and 92 percent of all disputes are settled out of court instead of through litigation. Corporate law departments or law firms select thousands of mediators and arbitrators each year to handle matters ranging from employment to bankruptcy to patent infringement. While there are no industry statistics that break out demographics of mediators and arbitrators, discussion with general counsel, ABA officials and outside counsel reveal a common theme: ADR practitioners who have built a successful practice are less likely to be women and even less likely to be minorities.

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