Alternative dispute resolutions such as arbitration are becoming more in-demand today, and with it comes the need for skillful arbitrators.
Arbitrators learn by doing and their legal expertise is often shaped by the experience they gain from taking more cases. One’s grasp of the law and arbitral proceedings is a must to become an effective arbitrator.
However, as an arbitrator gains more experience, what are the skills that they hone? Or better yet, what skills are required to become an effective arbitrator in the first place?
If you are a new arbitrator or one who is polishing up their skills, read along and learn the five skills of an effective arbitrator and how you can develop them.
Often overlooked, the ability to listen is one of the most important skills of an arbitrator. However, it is not enough to only listen to understand. An effective arbitrator must also listen to decide because what they hear will help them make an informed decision.
One way to practice listening skills is by controlling when you should intervene. Once someone is done speaking or providing their argument, give a few seconds of pause. This will let you think of what was just said to help you absorb the information.
Effective arbitrators should be able to speak well and have excellent command over language. They speak with confidence with an air of authority, without sounding boastful. However, eloquence does not mean displaying one’s wealth of vocabulary — it simply means that an effective arbitrator can articulate their thoughts clearly.
Aside from practice and listening or watching to a lot of great speakers (TED Talks is a good resource), letting yourself gesture while speaking will greatly improve your eloquence. Many tend to restrict themselves when speaking as they hyperfocus on what they have to say next. However, by letting your body freely move, you will be able to relax and it will help you articulate your thoughts better.
Arbitrators draft arbitral awards, which means they must have great writing skills. The awards are legally-binding, so one must ensure that it is written clearly and free of ambiguities.
As always, you must proofread your work to ensure that nothing is amiss. After drafting an award, you may leave it for a few hours and come back to it with fresh eyes. This will help you find the chinks in your writing or parts that may be vague. Again, you have to ensure that your arbitral award is airtight with no room for misinterpretation as these will have legal implications.
As an arbitrator grows their practice, they would be getting more and more appointments. And as these appointments grow, it is important to have a good work ethic and a clear system on how to manage them. After all, each case is sensitive which is why the participants opted to use arbitration in the first place.
On time arbitral awards is a key metric that you should consider to develop your management skills as an effective arbitrator. Having a document that provides an overview of the scope, budget, and most importantly, schedule of a case would be helpful in managing an arbitral award’s drafting process. By doing this, you would be able to swiftly move from case to case, thereby earning you more appointments and helping you grow your practice.
One common fault of arbitrators who gain a lot of experience is to run on autopilot. After handling many cases, some tend to stop thinking critically which deters them from being effective arbitrators.
One way to develop and maintain your critical thinking skills is by critiquing your own work. By consciously putting in the effort to be your own work’s devil’s advocate, not only are you developing your critical thinking skills, but you are also honing all the other skills that have been mentioned thus far.
These are the top five skills you need aside from legal expertise and experience to become an effective arbitrator. To practice these in a low-risk environment, you may opt to sign up for arbitration training. Ultimately, what matters is that you are intentional in developing your skills as an arbitrator.
Come develop your skills as an arbitrator with Jur. Today, the project is entering a new and exciting chapter for arbitrators who want to join the Jur Roster of modern arbitrators. Check it out.
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