The field of alternative dispute resolution (ADR) is not regulated in Canada. There is no official body that governs the conduct of ADR professionals.
However, the ADR Institute of Ontario (ADRIO) plays a key role in setting educational and ethical standards for mediators and arbitrators throughout the province. Membership is voluntary, but comes with a number of benefits.
The institute also offers nationally recognized designations that can help you gain professional legitimacy. Becoming a Qualified Mediator through ADRIO, for example, demonstrates to the public that you have met certain standards and can perform competently as a mediator.
To learn more about the institute and how aspiring mediators and arbitrators can start and advance their careers in Ontario, we spoke with ADRIO Executive Director Pramila Javaheri.
Q. Can you give us some background on ADRIO?
Pramila: The ADR Institute of Ontario (ADRIO) is one of seven regional affiliates. The ADR Institute of Canada (ADRIC) is our national organization.
At ADRIO, we support our members in taking the next step in their careers by providing growth, development, and networking opportunities.
We guide the designations application process. The designations are national, but they are approved at the local level. We have volunteer committees that process and approve the applications.
We also offer professional development opportunities for new, intermediate, and seasoned practitioners. We try to have one or two really amazing offerings a month, whether it be a robust one-hour training session or an in-depth four-hour session, with the goal of providing members a chance to continue to upgrade their skill sets.
Q. What types of memberships do you offer?
Pramila: We offer the following memberships at ADRIO:
- Full membership—Provides access to all member benefits, the designation program, and a listing on our member directory for ADR users to access our practitioners
- Associate memberships—For individuals who would like to be members but haven’t completed 40 hours of basic ADR training yet
- Student memberships—For people who are enrolled in full-time post-secondary programs
The training and experience requirements vary by membership type, but all ADRIO members must complete an online ethics course.
Q. How can someone decide whether to join ADRIO or ADRIC or both?
Pramila: The full membership consists of a membership to both organizations, ADRIO and ADRIC. When you activate a full membership at ADRIO, ADRIO will remit the membership cost to ADRIC so that you only pay once. This applies to membership renewals as well.
Q. ADRIO offers Qualified and Chartered designations for mediators and arbitrators. What are the differences between them?
Pramila: Qualified designations are entry-level and are designed for members who are fairly new to the field.
To become a Qualified Mediator (Q.Med), you must have 40 hours of basic mediation training, which you can get through Kompass or another approved provider, plus 40 hours of specialized mediation and related training. You must also conduct two mediations, either paid or unpaid, and obtain Errors and Omissions insurance.
For the Qualified Arbitrator (Q.Arb) designation, you need 40 hours of arbitration training, which again you can get through Kompass or another provider on our approved list. You also need to pass an exam and get your insurance.
Chartered designations are for more experienced professionals.
The Chartered Mediator (C.Med) designation requires an additional 100 hours of training plus at least 15 paid mediations.
For the Chartered Arbitrator (C.Arb), in addition to the 40 hours of training, you must pass the C.Arb exam. You also have to chair at least 10 arbitrations and submit two written awards with the confidential information redacted.
Q. How can people pursuing their Q.Med designation find opportunities to conduct mediations?
Pramila: When you’re looking for mediations, start with who you know. Maybe you have children who are on a sports team that could use a mediator from time to time. Or maybe you have a community centre where you could offer your services. If you have any ethnic or cultural roots, go back to those communities and see if you can mediate for them. Faith-based organizations or centres are another possibility.
Remember: the mediations can be unpaid. As long as you’ve facilitated a mediation, you can use that for the practical experience requirement.
Just ensure you have insurance before taking on any mediations.
Q. What are the advantages to becoming a designated ADR professional?
Pramila: ADR is not a regulated field, so there’s nothing that says you have to get a designation. However, doing so gives you credentials that can set you apart and help you succeed. It tells clients that you’ve met a high professional standard and gives them the confidence that they’ve chosen the right person to work with.
More and more organizations are looking to have their staff obtain their designation. I have been in discussion with more leaders from both the public and private sectors that have been inquiring about supporting their staff teams in completing mediation training and pursuing designations.
In my time at ADRIO as Executive Director, I have learned that the individuals who are excelling in their area of expertise continue to invest in their learning and development and obtain a designation to support their career goals. These designations play a role in setting yourself apart from the rest of the population.
Q. What advice would you give someone looking to get started in the ADR field?
Pramila: I highly recommend joining ADRIO and taking advantage of the membership benefits that are included in your fee. I’ve learned from my own experience of being a member of ADRIO for 20+ years that this is a professional organization that can guide and support your career goals.
I received my Chartered Mediator designation in 2007. Over the course of my career, whenever I needed support, I would turn to ADRIO, and the staff team would share ideas and options with me to get me to my next level. The ADRIO staff and I want to do the same for others who are interested in the ADR field.
ADRIO provides a community around you. We’re here to support our members on each step of their journey. For instance, we offer one-hour Zoom workshops called Maximizing Your Membership, FAQ With Sue (our member experience specialist), and Team With Our ED, where I talk about how to chart your course, stay focused, and leverage your networking opportunities.
We also focus on supporting non-members in learning about the ADR field and encouraging them to take advantage of our complimentary sessions as they decide whether to embark on a membership opportunity.
TAKE THE FIRST STEP TOWARD A CAREER IN MEDIATION OR ARBITRATION
Kompass Professional Development offers a 12-week mediation certificate as well as a 10-week arbitration certificate. Both certificates are recognized by ADRIO and meet the basic training requirement for the Q.Med and Q.Arb designations respectively.
The programs are taught by skilled ADR professionals with decades of experience and are delivered online for maximum flexibility.
Click below to get complete details on each certificate and chat live with an advisor who can answer any questions you may have. We’re here to help!