Carrel – ADR as First Career Video Blog Update

Alyson Carrel (Northwestern) passes along this update about her ADR as First Career Video Blog.


In September, I launched a new video blog called ADR as 1st Career, in order to collect and celebrate stories of individuals who chose the ADR field as the place to start their professional careers. In the past 3-4 months, the blog has grown from featuring just 5 individuals to now featuring 28 (with many more on the way). I have talked with ADR professionals from the east coast to west coast and even overseas in England and Italy. And the blog has been viewed over 2800 times.

I received a lot of feedback on the blog from folks surprised to find out that there are so many individuals who claim ADR as their first career – who chose to ignore the sage advice to practice law or establish themselves in another field first before transitioning over to ADR as a second or even third career. And although this path is still rare compared to other professions, there are a large number of folks who because of their passion and dedication, or in some cases sheer luck, realize they can in fact pursue a career in ADR at an early age or soon after graduation.

The individuals featured in this blog tend to be entrepreneurial, passionate, and steadfastly dedicated to dispute resolution as a way of life (see for example, J Kim Wright, Robyn Weinstein). The stories range from traditional full time mediation work (private mediators Kahlil Palmer, Gururaj Kumar, Jason Dykstra, and court mediators Peggy King, Stephanie Senuta) and ombuds work (Annalisa Peterson), to directing agency/court mediation programs (Shawn Davis, Caroline Torosis, Amy Koltz) or community mediation programs (Cassie Lively, Mac Steele). A few are legal counsel in ADR departments or ADR organizations (Vik Kapoor, Tracey Frisch), work in academia or law school clinics (Heather Kulp, Donna Erez-Navot, Debra Berman and Stephanie Bell), and some work internationally (Scott Hinkle, Romina Canessa). I interviewed veterans in the field (such as Geetha Ravindra), folks who first started mediating in peer mediation programs (Clare Fowler) and one who just graduated law school this year and started her first ADR position this fall (Asha George). I have to admit that some of the individuals featured on the blog did in fact work in other fields for a bit before starting their career in ADR, but still do not fit the narrative of the traditional path to ADR (working as an attorney for 20 years or better yet, a judge, retiring a little early and then mediating) – (Jason Harper, Peggy King,).

The blog has been featured on, mentioned in a number of workshops for folks thinking of pursuing a career in ADR, shown in ADR classes, and gotten a little attention on twitter. But one of my favorite responses to this blog comes from Laura Noah, a full time mediator in the Cook County Family Mediation program. Laura recently wrote a post on her blog about the realization that as the next generation of ADR professionals, we have a story to share. That for those of us who started in mediation at such a young age, at such an early stage in our career, it is odd to realize that we are no longer the babies, the newbies, the novices whose role is simply to observe, learn, and absorb. It is our role now to lead, to guide, to mentor, to support.

I hope you have been enjoying the videos. And please continue to encourage your students and alum to contact me if they would like to share their story (and if your career path would make a good fit, please consider sharing it with us as well). Hearing about so many individuals who have chosen to forge this path, trail blazers in the field, is inspiring. But even more so, I am beginning to think there is a new narrative to be told. That the efforts to increase ADR curriculum in law schools, on college campuses, in high schools and even elementary schools, is changing the landscape as to what is possible. Choosing ADR as your first career may not be easy, you may not be on the fast track to making millions, but if you are passionate about this work, it is possible.