ADR Conference Meeting Need for Minority Mediators

  • By 2002, Capital University Law School’s Mediation and Dispute Resolution program had earned a reputation as one of the country’s premier programs on the subject, and Professor Floyd Weatherspoon had earned his own reputation as a well-established mediator and arbitrator.

    But something was missing. 

    “I didn’t see many minorities working as neutral mediators,” Weatherspoon said. “I went to the Law School’s dean and said ‘I want to have a conference.’ I wanted to learn why the minority pool is so low and why minority neutrals aren’t being selected.”

    What started as a one-day state conference has grown under Weatherspoon’s guidance into the National Conference for Minority Professionals in Alternative Dispute Resolution.

    “When the first conference sold out, I realized there was a need here. I applied for a grant from the Hewlett Foundation, which helped develop the national conference that started in 2003,” Weatherspoon said.

    This year’s conference, the 10th, will be May 14-16 at the Law School and should draw between 200 and 300 attendees. The annual conference acquaints minority neutrals with styles of alternative dispute resolution, from family and business disputes to sports-related disagreements. As the conference has grown, Weatherspoon has worked to determine what needs still exist for minority neutrals.

    “Early on, folks said ‘OK, we’re getting training, but we aren’t getting the opportunities,’ so we had to figure out how to get more opportunities for minority neutrals,” Weatherspoon said. “We decided to host an institute every other year, where we could select minorities with the proper qualifications and get them on a panel to be selected. We are trying to get more minorities on that roster.”

    Weatherspoon said he has seen some positive changes in the 10 years since the conference began, and progress continues to be made, but there is still room for growth.

    “There are still some areas where minorities have trouble getting in, so there is still some work to be done,” he said.

    Weatherspoon said this year’s conference will have at least 25 sessions covering all areas of alternative dispute resolution. Learn more and to register (when availble).