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What does a Mediator and Arbitrator do?

An arbitrator and mediator often work in the legal services industry or in local and state governments attempting to resolve conflicts between opposing parties outside of the court system. An arbitrator and mediator’s ultimate goal is to encourage and facilitate negotiations and dialogue between conflicting parties with the goal of reaching acceptable agreements for both sides. However, here is the difference is between the two.
An arbitrator is a person or group appointed to settle a dispute outside of the court system. They will hear testimony from the individuals in dispute and make a decision. This process is less formal than going to court.

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A mediator does not hear evidence or make a decision, they assist two disputing parties to communicate and reach a settlement with one another.

How to Become a Mediator or Arbitrator

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Educational requirements for arbitrators and mediators may vary because many have expertise in a particular field that they help settle disputes within. In some instances, a bachelor’s degree is sufficient in their field of knowledge. However, some may have advanced degrees in business administration or law. Colleges and universities may offer a 2-year master’s degree, certificate program, or doctoral degree in conflict resolution or dispute.

An arbitrator is most often a retired judge, business professional, or lawyer. Independent mediation programs, colleges, and local and national mediation membership organizations provide training that most states require before an applicant can practice in court-appointed or state-funded mediation cases. This usually means you would need to complete of 20-40 hours of training.

Job Description of a Mediator and Arbitrator

An arbitrator and mediator help parties settle disputes and reach mutual agreements through communication and dialog. They attempt to satisfy disputes by clarifying needs, issues, and concerns and would usually conduct meetings in the initial process. They clarify procedural issues like time requirements, fees, or witnesses. They would be responsible for setting up appointments, conducting interviews from witnesses or claimants, and reach conclusions through their knowledge of policy, law, and regulation.

An arbitrator and mediator listens carefully to both sides of the opposing parties and strives to settle disputes outside the court system. Mediators are neutral parties that help resolve disputes, however, make no decisions. Arbitrators hear disputes and make impartial decisions.

Mediator and Arbitrator Career Video Transcript

Many people involved in legal disputes prefer to resolve their differences in a meeting room instead of court to save costs or maintain a more informal, flexible atmosphere. Arbitrators, mediators, and conciliators facilitate dialogue between disputing parties to help resolve conflicts without entering a courtroom. Arbitrators, mediators, and conciliators hold private hearings to clarify the issues and interests of all involved, and encourage parties to find areas of mutual agreement.

Though closely related, the three work somewhat differently. Arbitrators hear and decide disputes. They are usually attorneys, retired judges, or business professionals with expertise in a particular field. Their cases may be legally (or voluntarily) referred for arbitration. Mediators are neutral parties who facilitate discussions to reach a satisfactory agreement. If no agreement is reached, they may choose different options, often the court system.

Conciliators are similar to mediators, except that they typically meet with the parties separately, and then make recommendations. Most arbitrators, mediators, and conciliators work full time, in either legal services, government, or non-profit organizations, and may travel to different sites for negotiations. Most people who work in these fields have education in another field, such as law or business management, or experience in an industry related to the dispute. Advanced degrees or certificates in dispute or conflict resolution may qualify candidates for some positions.

Article Citations

Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, Arbitrators, Mediators, and Conciliators.

National Center for O*NET Development. 23-1022.00. O*NET OnLine.

The career video is in the public domain from the U. S. Department of Labor, Employment and Training Administration.