Working as an arbiter is an exciting way to make your mark in the legal industry. Arbitration jobs are all about settling disputes in an effective manner between individuals or businesses.
What is an arbiter?
Arbitrators work outside the court system, resolving conflicts, and aiding relevant parties, settling disputes. They’ll meet disputants, usually travelling to carry out these hearings in public facilities or conference rooms. The clients include individuals or businesses, depending on the situation. Their role is to take a neutral position, making decisions for disputes, based on each party’s evidence.
An arbiter’s role involves resolving legal disputes between individuals and businesses outside of the courtroom and across international borders. They’re used voluntarily, meaning both sides must follow the arbiter’s decisions.
Arbitrators do not need legal qualifications, although a law degree is usually an advantage as most disputes involve the law.
As the traditional process of litigation is lengthy and expensive, many businesses and individuals choose arbitrators to settle disputes. These parties have the preference to choose who they want their arbitrator to be, and are picked based on your skill or expertise.
Arbitrators manage a variety of case types from referral to resolution. Each of your tasks depends on the dispute type and can involve the following:
- Gathering evidence from both the claimant and respondent.
- Organising initial meetings between parties to describe the arbitration process.
- Organising appointments with both parties where both sides present their evidence.
- Writing what is expected of the parties and specific matters of the dispute.
- Clarifying the arguments for both parties and summarising each side’s position in a document.
- Applying the relevant laws and industry knowledge to settle disputes.
- Interviewing the relevant stakeholders in each case.
- Analysing documentation and deciding to resolve the dispute, based on evidence and arguments on both sides.
Self-employed arbitrators have the same responsibilities, however, they also have to manage their businesses. They’ll need to network and build a reputation, maintain a professional profile online and manage their finances.
The salary of an arbitrator can vary based on experience and whether you’re either self-employed, working in a commercial form or a public body.
For accredited arbitrators with less than five years of experience, the average full-time salary is £56,500. With experience and time, it can rise to around the £90,000 mark. Self-employed arbitrators can set their fees, based on expertise and services.
Arbitrators do not need legal qualifications, although a law degree is usually an advantage as most disputes involve the law. You could choose an undergraduate degree or postgraduate degree modules related to arbitration, such as commercial arbitration. Certain universities can offer specific degrees in arbitration but most subject-specific programmes are at the postgraduate master's level, with students needing to study Law degrees at an undergraduate level or a Law degree with an arbitration module, such as Law with International Arbitration & Commercial Law degrees.
Becoming a chartered arbitrator can be a long process with lots of different training courses and continuous development.
The main route into this role is going down the course's path. The Chartered Institute of Arbitrators (CIArb) offers various pathway programmes, providing training for newcomers to more advanced levels. The range of courses includes:
- ADR (alternative dispute resolution) and arbitration introduction Courses for different ADR types - Construction Adjudication, Domestic Arbitration, Internal Arbitration and Mediation
- Various accelerated assessments for those with a legal background and/or some experience in a specific dispute resolution. This includes:
- Diploma in International Commercial Arbitration
- International Arbitration or Domestic Arbitration
- Accelerated Routes to Membership (ARM) in Construction Adjudication
- Accelerated Routes to Fellowship (ARF) in Construction Adjudication
- International Arbitration or Domestic Arbitration
Training and development
Becoming a chartered arbitrator can be a long process with lots of different training courses and continuous development. CIArb is the training hub offering various courses from entry-level to advanced and continuous professional development when in the role.
Keeping up to date with knowledge and skills is vital within an arbiter role. Organisations including the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC), CIArb and The Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service (Acas) provide much continuing professional development (CPD) opportunities, such as workshops, resources, events and specialist training courses.
Work experience is always beneficial to help make your mark on a specific job role, and being an arbitrator is no different.
Furthering your training can mean training future arbitrators, by working for an organisation and taking part in the CIArb’s partnership programme. It’s an opportunity to teach dispute management and gain further qualifications. Arbitration types vary which means the amount of CPD is different from one type to the next. It’s down to your organisation and yourself to ensure you keep up with relevant CPD training. There’s also the opportunity to train on your own accord. You can develop your professional knowledge through research. Continuously reading and learning will broaden your knowledge and strengthen your future development.
A successful arbitrator will require a strong set of skills. The main ones:
- Strong communication skills with others and the ability to work within teams.
- Relevant industry knowledge and experience in various sectors suited to the role.
- The ability to remain neutral, evaluate evidence and make fair decisions.
- A tact for negotiation and commercial awareness.
- Strong at problem-solving and remaining calm in conflicting situations.
- Awareness of the sensitive nature of some disputes.
- Self-confidence in your decision-making skills.
Work experience is always beneficial to help make your mark on a specific job role, and being an arbitrator is no different. As an arbitrator, it’s useful to gain work experience to see what kind of arbitration you’d like to work in and build a strong range of contacts to aid your career.
Internship opportunities are widely available at the Association for International Arbitration (AIA), International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) and London Court of International Arbitration (LCIA). Despite the high competition in these internships, the main way to get your foot in the door is to demonstrate your interest in the relevant area.
You can do this through moot courts (co-curricular activity at many law schools), in other debate forums or work for the selection of legal charities. Either paid or voluntary, consider working for Citizens Advice, Law Centres Network and Representation Unit (FRU) to prepare you for general dispute resolution experience and challenging arbitration issues.
Your knowledge comes into play for commercial or international arbitration. It’s best to know what’s going on within the commercial and political world. You can read about big arbitration cases hitting the headlines, and being on top of relevant trends in law. The more knowledge you have on the topic, the better it can assist you when applying for roles in the industry. Roles in social welfare and trade unions can also help for work experience.
The career growth of an arbiter is limitless, as a strong alternative to traditional litigation. It’s a role, growing in popularity and means, opportunities for further development into different pathways.
Arbitrators work outside the court system, resolving conflicts, and aiding relevant parties, settling disputes.
With trends changing in the legal professions, arbitration solicitors are no longer confined to the jurisdiction in which they qualified. This mean, the possibility of change and growth can see them working in new countries across the globe. They can also qualify in a second jurisdiction to widen their knowledge.
When you’ve established yourself as an arbiter and received relevant qualifications, there’s the opportunity to work up to senior roles. Senior roles in arbitration generally include a higher profile and more complex cases, where there could be serious repercussions if no agreement is reached.
Other career prospects include management or partner roles, being responsible for looking after staff or developing the quality of the practice.
Alternatively, with arbiter experience, you can head down the self-employed route and develop your own business. This way you have the flexibility to pick the cases you’d like to work on and develop further in specialist areas.
- Arbitration average salary in United Kingdom 2022 — Talent.comRetrieved 26 August 2022.