How Long Does Arbitration School Take?

Arbitrators are individuals who are experts at their own fields who act as third party evaluators in a dispute between two opposing individuals, companies or institutions. They hear the arguments of the two parties outside of court system and then make their decision afterwards. For some claims, the court may require that the parties go through arbitration first while in other disputes, the parties may voluntarily submit themselves to the arbitration process.

Aspiring arbitrators first need to understand that this is a career for those who have already established themselves in a particular industry. The educational training for future arbitrators usually begins with a bachelor’s degree in their field of expertise. Most arbitrators are lawyers or business practitioners so the length of time one spends in school will depend on the educational path that is taken. Law school typically takes seven years to finish.

After a high school, the student enrolls in a bachelor’s degree that would prepare him for formal law school. Undergraduate degrees in English, government, legal studies, public speaking, government or related courses are often considered good preparations for law school. A bachelor’s degree takes four years to complete.

After obtaining a bachelor’s degree, the student who wishes to go to law school will have to take the Law School Admission Test (LSAT) to determine if they have the aptitude for legal studies. Law school itself will take another three years of fulltime study. Lawyers who have successfully graduated from the program will need to pass the bar exams before they can practice their profession.

Another educational path towards a career in arbitration is by taking a bachelor’s degree related to business such as accounting, marketing or similar fields. After four years, most practitioners take further studies through a master’s degree, such as a master’s in business administration (MBA) which will take another two years.

On top of their existing degrees and work experience in their field, arbitrators may also take formal classes in conflict resolution which will lead to a certificate. This will take about a year of study. Some universities and colleges also offer master’s degrees in conflict management, dispute resolution and similar programs which typically take two years to complete. Those who want to deepen their knowledge about negotiation, peace-building and mediation may also pursue a doctoral degree program which will take another four or five years.

Aside from formal education courses leading to a degree, professionals who wish to obtain further training in arbitration and mediation may also attend classes offered at independent mediation programs as well as membership organizations. For mediators appointed by a court to help parties find solutions to their conflict, they would need to finish a basic course in mediation which takes 40 hours to finish and an advanced training course which will take them another 20 hours to complete.

Arbitrators are often required to be supervised by an experienced mediator in their first few cases before they are given permission to work on their own. Mediators perform similar work as arbitrators but unlike the latter, mediators don’t have the power to make decisions.

Career Spotlight: Arbitrator

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