Photo: Andy Livingston, CEO of Dexterity Consulting and arbitration instructor at Kompass
Over the last few years there's been a considerable uptick in demand for alternative dispute resolution services like arbitration and mediation.
The pandemic has only accelerated this trend as people look to settle their conflicts outside of court.
And lawyers aren't the only ones pursuing careers in ADR.
People from diverse professional backgrounds are taking mediation and arbitration training to better handle workplace disputes - or set up private ADR practices.
This week we spoke with Andy Livingston, a social sciences graduate turned certified ADR professional, who runs a private practice and teaches arbitration training at Kompass.
Andy walks us through the online arbitration certificate and explains different pathways to becoming an arbitrator in Canada.
Think you might be interested in this course? Read on for an inside look.
Q: Andy, can you tell us a bit about your education and background in alternative dispute resolution? How did you get started in this field?
Andy: I have a BA in political science and sociology, and a masters in sociology and disability studies.
My career in ADR began at the Saskatchewan Humans Rights Commission where I worked for 10 years as an investigator and facilitator.
I also have experience in arbitration and mediation, and hold the Qualified Mediator, Qualified Arbitrator, and Med/Arb designations from ADRIC.
Q: In 2017, you founded a unique ADR firm called Dexterity Consulting. What kind of work do you specialize in?
Andy: Dexterity is a typical ADR firm in that we offer mediation and arbitration services. However, we also offer special services in accommodation, accessibility, and human rights.
We do a lot of accommodation work, third-party investigation, and insurance and injury disputes. I also provide sensitivity training and develop personal accessibility plans.
Our clients are individuals, businesses, organizations, educational institutions and governments.
Q: Can you tell us about your background as an educator and course creator?
Andy: Throughout my career, I've done quite a bit of course development for organizations on disability and accommodation, sensitivity and inclusion.
In terms of ADR, I've been teaching the Arbitration certificate at Kompass for about 2 years.
I’ve also facilitated a number of workshops, taught and done course development at the university level before joining the faculty at Kompass.
Q: The Arbitration certificate at Kompass covers a lot of ground in just 10 weeks! What exactly do students learn?
Andy: Students get a solid grounding in what arbitration is and how to conduct a complete arbitration from start to finish.
We cover the fundamentals of administrative law, tort law, and provide a lot of practical experience through role play and simulated arbitrations.
Q: The Arbitration certificate is delivered entirely online. So how do you actually prepare students for the realities of real-world arbitrations?
Andy: Storytelling and case studies are key components. We look at real disputes and how to handle them through arbitration.
Of course, the live role-plays are essential in preparing students to become effective arbitrators. They offer a lot of practical experience.
Students take turns 'being' the arbitrator, and we cover many different scenarios and practice areas, such as sports, labour, and commercial disputes.
We also tailor parts of the course to the students' individual goals and needs. I never teach the course exactly the same way twice.
For example, if a student is a business manager or works in labour, I’ll incorporate case studies and role-plays from those domains.
Q: Do students need experience in law or alternative dispute resolution to take this course?
Andy: No experience in law or ADR is necessary. We have people with backgrounds in labour, education, HR, sports, business management, law...
It’s a very international program. There are students from all over the world, from a variety of professional backgrounds.
Q: What advice would you give someone who is considering setting up an ADR practice or consultancy?
Andy: During the arbitration course, I always do a special lecture with tips and advice on launching a private practice. Quite a few students are interested in pursuing this path.
We cover key topics like marketing, finding mentors, and building a contact list.
I have a virtual 'open door' policy, to help students who are interested in starting their own practice or getting their careers started.
I take them through the certification process, how to get government jobs, connect with other arbitrators in their city, etc.
I’m happy to work with students one-to-one to support their career growth, even after they complete the course.
Everybody wants something a bit different from this course. I get to know each student, so I can figure out how to support them in their learning and career goals.
Q: What are some major trends you’re noticing in the ADR industry? How do you see the field evolving?
Andy: A big trend is med-arb, which is the combination of both approaches. Elder mediation is also growing fast.
The possibilities for ADR in the coming years are endless. It’s much more efficient than the courts in resolving disputes, and becoming much more popular as society gets a greater understanding of its advantages.
Q: What do you find most fulfilling about working as an arbitrator and mediator?
Andy: I really enjoy helping people and challenging myself.
Being an adjudicator and decision-maker is incredibly rewarding because you're helping people find closure to their disputes.
And in terms of teaching, I learn just as much from my students as they learn from me.
The teaching has been very fulfilling. I’ve met people from around the world, helped to foster their growth, and supported them in building skills that have truly transformed their professional practice.
I truly enjoy seeing students grow, and watching them go on to build their practice and achieve their goals in the ADR field.
Learn More About Online Arbitration Training at Kompass
Kompass offers a 10-week online Arbitration certificate.
The course is accredited by the ADR Institute of Canada (ADRIC) and meets the educational requirements for the Qualified Arbitrator (Q. Arb) designation.
Students receive personalized instructor support throughout the training, which includes live role-plays and mock arbitrations.
Click below to explore the course and chat live with admissions for more information.