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#51 ProfReader

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Posted 11 February 2013 - 09:55 AM

With regard to exams, yes it can be difficult.  I find that the marks of around 80% are completely clear, but I probably agonize over the marks for the other 20%, often reading the exams again.  I find it much harder for paper courses than for exam courses (those that have hypos rather than essays).  I make a really detailed marking key out of 100 potential marks and that helps with grading.

 

Yes, the line between two grades can be very close, but I would not say that it would come down to just organization.  If two exams had the same substantive content but one was organized better than the other, I would not draw a letter grade line between those two grades.  Sometimes the line isn't that fine and it draws itself naturally.  For example, I might have an exam with 100 points and seven students had the following grades: 84, 82, 80, 78, 77, 76, 75.  There is a natural gap between 78 and 80 where I would draw the B+/A- line.  However, it would be much more difficult if the grades were 82, 81, 80, 79, 76, 76, 75.  I might bump the 79% up into the As, since the exam answer quality is closer to those exams.  I would seldom use this rule to bump people down though, unless it was required to adhere to the curve (ie if the marks were 85, 84, 84, 80, 79, 79, 78, I would probably not bump the 80 down).

 

With regard to the similarity between a 66 and 70, yes, they can be very close.  That is really just a couple of marks.  In terms of bumping a 66 up to a B, I don't think I've ever had this happen, but I've definitely bumped lots of 78s and 79s into the Bs where I had too many C+s.  Perhaps this is what happened with the 66 that you are talking about.  There may have been too many Cs, so almost all became C+ and almost all of the C+ became B.  Different schools have somewhat different grading policies, but you have to be concerned with both making sure that you comply with the average that the school sets and you also have to have a distribution of grades.  Sometimes it all works out where the grades sort of distribute themselves and other time it is really, really difficult. 



#52 xyz

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Posted 12 February 2013 - 09:41 PM

As a 0L who has no good questions to contribute (yet), I just want to say this thread is awesome and incredibly insightful. Thanks for taking the time to do this ProfReader.


Edited by xyz, 12 February 2013 - 09:41 PM.


#53 GoldenSpartan83

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Posted 13 February 2013 - 12:13 PM

Like xyz, I'm a 0L. This has been a great thread. Is there anything that you would suggest doing in the year leading up to our first year in order to prepare for the first year of law school?

 

Thanks. 


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#54 ProfReader

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Posted 13 February 2013 - 06:21 PM

GoldenSpartan.

 

I didn't know if you were asking from the perspective of someone who was already accepted, so I had a look at your other posts...it looks like you are attending Western starting in September.  In terms of getting ready for first year, I wouldn't suggest doing too much academically.  Because it looks like you are moving to a new citty, I think there are some things you can do to make that an easier transition, which will likely have a positive impact on your studies and your law school experience.  First, I would suggest getting as many logistic moving-related things figured out as you can from your current location (Ottawa?), so that when you arrive in London you can attend all of the orientation week stuff and get to know your new classmates.  To that end, I would also suggest going to London a few days before orientation week starts so that you aren't running around too much.  I know that I hated ditching impromptu drinks with new friends during my own orientation week because I had to let the cable guy in and go buy furniture!  You might also consider conneting with future classmates that are in Ottawa.  It is always good to go into law school knowing a few people.  I think having a good social support system in place will help make the adjustment better, which can help academically.  Once you do start classes, the main piece of advice I have is is not to let yourself get behind in readings and not to be too shy to talk in class (especially if there is a participation mark!).   



#55 GoldenSpartan83

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Posted 13 February 2013 - 08:27 PM

Ok, perfect. Thank you very much for your quick response. As a follow up, do you know whether there is a significant difference between living in residence the first year as opposed to off-campus? On the one hand, living on campus would make it easier to transition into the city and make it easier to get to class. However, I don't know what the levels of distraction will be as opposed to off-campus living. Thank you once again. 



#56 ProfReader

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Posted 14 February 2013 - 09:47 AM

GoldenSpartan,

 

First, I just reread my first post with all of its spelling errors...I'm definitely not as good as you youngsters at using my phone.

 

I'm sure that some current Western students will be able to add insight, but I would definitely live off campus unless it is truly a graduate residence.  18 year olds who are away from home for the first time are really annoying and you don't want to live in that environment (not only for studying reasons but also because you won't have much in common with them).  I think you would probably be happier and more productive living off campus.  Alone might be best, if you can afford it, as roomates can turn out to be difficult.  You're right that the transition to the city would probably be easier with residence, but with some pre-planning, I think you could still have a fairly smooth transition.  You're also right that residence would make it easy to get to class, but London is small enough that I'm sure it is easy enough to get around by bus.  I've been to London several times and there seems to be tons of apartments close enough to campus.  The main detriment to living off campus is I'm sure, as with any other university town, it is extremely difficult to sublet an apartment over the summer, so you may end up paying that rent if you go back home for the summer or subletting with a steep discount. 



#57 Neo

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Posted 14 February 2013 - 03:17 PM

Thanks for all your valuable pointers in this thread, ProfReader.  I was wondering if you could offer some insights with respect to those who have an interest in Sports Law in terms of which law schools (I heard Western might be the best Ontario law school but have also heard Osgoode) are most suited for entry into the industry and offer the best preparation in terms of course selections.  I suspect that Sports Law falls under the umbrella of Entertainment Law and is more oriented towards the curriculum of U.S.-based law schools but it would be great if you can share your thoughts on this matter.



#58 Uriel

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Posted 14 February 2013 - 03:54 PM

Just to pitch in from the practitioner's perspective --- a lot of sports law is not all that different from either corporate/commercial or employment law.  You might very well find yourself working at a full-service firm with a good chunk of employment law and collective bargaining background under your belt and then find that your firm happens to have the Raptors or the Oilers as clients.  The next thing you know, you're the Oilers' lawyer.

 

While there are focused courses on sports law at some schools, and there are some legal structures specific to sports (e.g. waivers), you may not be getting the best bang for your buck in selecting a school based on its sports law program.  If you're super-keen, have a look at which professors/adjuncts are teaching the sports law courses at the various schools.  It might be more productive to get to know the people actually doing the work and then looking for a recommendation. 

 

Ultimately it isn't going to be sports law courses at school that get you into the field.  It's good grades in relevant areas of law and networking with people that practice in the area.  You could get an A+ in two different sports courses (which is probably the max available at any school) and still not have too great a shot at practicing sports law.  Instead, someone with better grades generally and at a school preferred by the firm with the clients you want is going to get a general job (IP, corporate, employment) at Firm X.  Then, once that student impresses the billing lawyer for the Montreal Canadiens, that lawyer begins to put the student on all the various transactions involving the team. 

 

Why is this?  Because knowing the GAA of Pekka Rinne in his rookie year off the top of your head has nothing to do with the job.  The job is drafting an employment contract.  Or papering a transaction where the consideration for the bargain is a second-round draft pick instead of real estate.  In this regard, it is handy to have taken sports law classes because you may be more familiar with the structure and elements of an NHL contract specifically, but the determining factor isn't what you know about sports law but the firm you work at, and how good you are at the substantive area of law the Canadiens want to pay you for.

 

To bring it down to specifics, I've been on a total of one (1) sports file, and I knew a lot about that sport and the various legal and regulatory frameworks concerned with it just from being a fan.  But the file was just a plain ol' intellectual property litigation file.  "You used our trademark."  "No we didn't."

 

So I'm that (team/league/player)'s lawyer not because I had any background in sports, but because I worked at a firm with sports clients and I had the relevant background to work on that file.  If I were a corporate guy instead of a litigator, I could have then pushed the partner in charge of that file to put me on anything else that should come up with that client.  The school I went to had no bearing on anything, except for providing me with the opportunity to interview with that firm.


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#59 Neo

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Posted 14 February 2013 - 04:09 PM

Great insight, Uriel!  Thanks for your input.  I suspect that one needs to do well in courses such as Contracts since it really is the foundation of Collective Bargaining Agreements in professional sports.  Then again, the other side of the equation, as you noted, is really mastering corporate law in general terms and perhaps more importantly, have the backing of those who are well-established in sports law already (e.g. Pat Brisson on the player agent side, Donald Fehr on the player association side, and Gary Bettman on the owners side).

.



#60 Uriel

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Posted 14 February 2013 - 04:22 PM

That might be aiming a bit high.  :)  Just try to make some contacts here and there with law firm partners that represent the clients you want to represent.  Knowing the clients themselves (Bettman, etc.) would of course be awesome, but I don't even know how you'd start doing that.

 

As for courses, you can bomb Contracts, as long as you get your grades high enough to get picked up as an articling student at the firm that has the client you want.  Of course it helps not to bomb it, and to have something to show to the partner in charge of that client to demonstrate that you'd be a good person to rely on when she needs help with the file.

 

Contracts are of course vital to any written employment contract, but I'd also argue pretty hard for labour and employment law, since they bend and break contract law proper.  Still, usually you take contracts in your first year and labour in your second, so you'll wind up with both. 

 

Most of your advanced labour classes will deal with collective bargaining, grievances, etc. that are central to dealmaking and dispute resolution between management and players' associations.  If you pull off straight "A"s in labour courses and approach a partner at your firm that represents the Winnipeg Jets, saying you want to help out with any of those client files, you'll be in good shape even if you've never taken a sports law class.  The critical thing, though, is getting a job at that firm, and then getting in front of that partner --- not necessarily excelling in that specific area of law in school.



#61 Neo

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Posted 14 February 2013 - 04:35 PM

Well said, Uriel.  And yes; aiming for the likes of Bettman, etc. might be ambitious although we could always follow the trajectory of Alex Anthopoulos and go from handling fan mail to becoming GM ;)  Of couse, what are the odds?!  On a more serious note, are there any other courses that you would suggest that we take aside from contracts, labour law, and employment law?



#62 Uriel

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Posted 14 February 2013 - 04:54 PM

Well, figure out who you want to work for: players, individuals, leagues, non-profits, regulatory bodies, government, etc.  Then dive into what their needs will be with regard to their industry's legal framework.  Carrying on with the team example, you'll want some labour and employment, contracts, maybe immigration and private international law for cross-border transactions (trades/drafts from America, Finland, Russia, etc.), dealmaking/negotiation/art of the deal, tax, business organizations, corporate governance, IP, entertainment and sports law.

 

Basically, what you're talking about in terms of working for management is that you would be counsel to a corporation in a regulated industry where the primary business assets are labour, intellectual property and arguably real estate.  The fact that the employees play sports is largely incidental to the skill set you'll need to develop. 


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#63 Mal

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Posted 14 February 2013 - 04:55 PM

Well, figure out who you want to work for: players, individuals, leagues, non-profits, regulatory bodies, government, etc.  Then dive into what their needs will be with regard to their industry's legal framework.  Carrying on with the team example, you'll want some labour and employment, contracts, maybe immigration and private international law for cross-border transactions (trades/drafts from America, Finland, Russia, etc.), dealmaking/negotiation/art of the deal, tax, business organizations, corporate governance, IP, entertainment and sports law.

 

Basically, what you're talking about in terms of working for management is that you would be counsel to a corporation in a regulated industry where the primary business assets are labour, intellectual property and arguably real estate.  The fact that the employees play sports is largely incidental to the skill set you'll need to develop. 

 

This is actually a pretty similar thought process to what you need to do for any legal career. Uriel is really smart.


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#64 ProfReader

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Posted 14 February 2013 - 04:59 PM

I think Uriel has beat me to the punch.  His/her list of courses is very comprehensive.  At the bare minimum, I would suggest labour and employment and corporate/business/whatever your school calls it (as you will be taking contracts anyway).  I would also affirm his point that you shouldn't pick a school based on a supposed expertise in sports law.  Usually this means one person and they may be on sabbatical while you are there.  For example, I think Western, which you mentioned, has a fairly well known sports lawyer, but I think it is just him and he only teaches one class in this area.  Even if you go to a school that doesn't have a sports or entertainment law course you can always write a sports law paper in an IP class or an advanced labour class or whatever.  You can also do an independent research paper of some sort at most schools and you might be able to find someone who, while not a sports law prof, is a prof in a related area that might be able to help.



#65 ProfReader

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Posted 14 February 2013 - 05:23 PM

I would also note that you can't count on getting into sports law.  There are only so many teams/leagues/etc.  It is difficult to get hired on at the particular firm that does the work for a particular team and then get involved in those files.  You might end up working in corporate law generally and never be able to break into that group working on the sports files.  If you are interested in corporate work in general, then that's not a problem, but you don't want to end up disappointed if you can't get on the work for the sports team.  Also, a lot of sports law isn't sports law per se.  To paraphrase what Uriel says above, the fact that the employees/trademarks/contracts/etc. happen to relate to a sport is incidental.  If the only thing that you like about working on a licensing agreement is that it happens to relate to the use of the Leaf's logo, you will get bored with the work quickly.  All of this is not to discourage you...you should definitely do everything you can to set yourself up to succeed (i.e. take the right courses, suck up to the right people at the firm), but just make sure that you have a Plan B.


Edited by ProfReader, 14 February 2013 - 05:24 PM.


#66 Neo

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Posted 14 February 2013 - 07:03 PM

Awesome advice, ProfReader!  Really appreciate it.  I am actually more interested in CBA issues and player contracts, etc.  And yes; I definitely will have a contingency plan in place in the event that I cannot break into sports law.  After all, there are only 30 MLB teams, 30 NHL teams, and 30 NBA Teams as you noted.



#67 ProfReader

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Posted 14 February 2013 - 07:12 PM

there are only 30 MLB teams, 30 NHL teams, and 30 NBA Teams as you noted.

 

Are you considering applying to US schools as well?  It is certainly beyond the scope of my expertise and I'm sure is discussed elsewhere on the site, but it isn't easy to transfer from one country to the other (in particular from the US to Canada).  I just wanted to give you the heads up to look into that issue further before you spend too much time looking into the US schools route.  If you are interested in the collective bargaining stuff, that is very interesting work regardless of whether you end up breaking into the sports industry, so I'm sure you will end up doing something you enjoy.


Edited by ProfReader, 14 February 2013 - 07:36 PM.


#68 Neo

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Posted 14 February 2013 - 07:55 PM

Not at the moment, ProfReader.  I could conceivably go for an LL.M. in the U.S. sometime down the road but I ought to think that I would be doing my JD here in Canada.  I would presume that a Canadian law degree would allow me to work on CBA and/or player issues in MLB, NHL, and NBA since there are Canadian franchises in these three leagues (granted only 1 in MLB, 7 in NHL and 1 in the NBA with the common denominator being Toronto) although Gary Bettman (NYU) and Donald Fehr (University of Missouri-Kansas City) both got their law degrees from U.S. law schools so I could be wrong...  Either way, I do enjoy CBA-related work as you observed.



#69 Jaggers

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Posted 14 February 2013 - 09:52 PM

There's about 5 partners in Canada who do much law related to sports. And a few associates who help them. If you want to get into the area, you probably have to work at Proskauer Rose in New York.

 

If you're really determined, research those firms which have those few partners, and apply there. Although it you tell them during your interviews that you would like to do sports law, they will probably laugh.

 

In addition to the labour and contracts courses, for anything related to sports I would also add competition law.



#70 Malicious Prosecutor

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Posted 15 February 2013 - 11:05 AM

Hey Prof, do you have any insight on pursuing a LL.M.?

 

I'm a Crown Prosecutor several years out of school.  I see that my local law school does offer a part-time LLM program, and I'm somewhat intrigued.

 

But honestly I never got to know any LLM students while I got my LLB.  What are masters-level courses like?  What kind of material is learned and what kind of time commitment is involved?  Finally (and this might be tough tfor you to answer) any thoughts on how useful a crim-focused LLB would be in practice?

 

Sorry for a somewhat vague question.  Any response appreciated.



#71 ProfReader

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Posted 15 February 2013 - 11:34 AM

Gary Bettman (NYU) and Donald Fehr (University of Missouri-Kansas City) both got their law degrees from U.S. law schools so I could be wrong...  Either way, I do enjoy CBA-related work as you observed.

I had to google who those people were.  You are right, they both went to US law schools.  However, they don't seem to be practicing law anymore, but rather hold executive positions within their organizations.  The advice that we've given you here relates to practicing law (within a law firm in Canada that practices sports law)...I would assume there are additional factors beyond our knowledge on this site to make the jump from legal practice to become an executive, as the individuals you named seemed to do.  I don't want to burst your bubble and definitely encourage you to pursue your dreams.  However, as the various comments on this site indicate, it is really a long shot to even get involved in sports law at a firm (let alone be appointed to one of the positions you've mentioned), so I also want you to be realistic about the prospects of ending up doing this sort of work.  As I said before, I think if you take the types of courses Uriel mentioned above, you will find something that interests you even if the sports law thing doesn't pan out.   



#72 ProfReader

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Posted 15 February 2013 - 11:48 AM

MP,

 

If you are referring to the professional LLM at Osgoode, I don't know a ton about that.  From what I've heard, it tends to be taught by a mix of faculty and some senior practitioners.  I've heard good things from one or two people that did it (although they were in areas other than criminal law).  I don't think they found it tremendously useful in practice, but I think some of them were a bit tired of the drudgery of work and missed learning new things, and so it was enjoyable in that way.

 

If you are referring to a regular LLM done on a part-time basis, the course don't tend to be LLM specific, but rather you take JD seminars and often one course with your fellow LLM students (because there aren't enough LLMs to have a significant number of course offerings specifically for those students).  For example, in my seminar classes I sometimes I have LLM students along with my JDs.  When I took my LLM, which was a thesis-based program, I did one course with the other LLM students (different schools approach this course differently, but it is often some sort of legal theory course), a couple of seminar classes with JD students, and then I did a thesis.   Again, my friends who have done a part-time LLM (either having commenced one while working or were finishing one off when they started working) have said that it wasn't tremendously useful in practice but that they enjoyed the intellectual stimulation.  I have a couple of friends who work for the federal government (as prosecutors).  They have some sort of educational leave policy where you can take a year off and they used it to do an LLM in Europe or New York and they enjoyed that (although probably more because of their geographic location than the academic work). 

 

The material/time commitment might be a bit different for the professional LLM program, but if it is just a regular part-time program at a law school, the material/time commitment would be very similar to what you encountered during your JD (although, of course, the time committment would be spread over a longer period of time and you would likely be able to write a paper more quickly now as you have some expertise in the area and are more proficient at research/writing). 



#73 Malicious Prosecutor

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Posted 15 February 2013 - 11:55 AM

MP,

 

If you are referring to the professional LLM at Osgoode, I don't know a ton about that.  From what I've heard, it tends to be taught by a mix of faculty and some senior practitioners.  I've heard good things from one or two people that did it (although they were in areas other than criminal law).  I don't think they found it tremendously useful in practice, but I think some of them were a bit tired of the drudgery of work and missed learning new things, and so it was enjoyable in that way.

 

If you are referring to a regular LLM done on a part-time basis, the course don't tend to be LLM specific, but rather you take JD seminars and often one course with your fellow LLM students (because there aren't enough LLMs to have a significant number of course offerings specifically for those students).  For example, in my seminar classes I sometimes I have LLM students along with my JDs.  When I took my LLM, which was a thesis-based program, I did one course with the other LLM students (different schools approach this course differently, but it is often some sort of legal theory course), a couple of seminar classes with JD students, and then I did a thesis.   Again, my friends who have done a part-time LLM (either having commenced one while working or were finishing one off when they started working) have said that it wasn't tremendously useful in practice but that they enjoyed the intellectual stimulation.  I have a couple of friends who work for the federal government (as prosecutors).  They have some sort of educational leave policy where you can take a year off and they used it to do an LLM in Europe or New York and they enjoyed that (although probably more because of their geographic location than the academic work). 

 

The material/time commitment might be a bit different for the professional LLM program, but if it is just a regular part-time program at a law school, the material/time commitment would be very similar to what you encountered during your JD (although, of course, the time committment would be spread over a longer period of time and you would likely be able to write a paper more quickly now as you have some expertise in the area and are more proficient at research/writing). 

 

I don't have a damn dirty JD!

 

Thanks for the insight - would be looking at a in-class, part-time LLM.



#74 Lamps8

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Posted 17 February 2013 - 07:02 PM

I'm not sure how much insight you can provide on the field of ADR, specifically arbitration since it is such a narrow field - but what would be your advice in terms of what courses to take?

 

I'm a 0L and will be attending school starting Sept. I'm aware of how difficult it is to break into, and how experience-based the field is. I think courses in areas such as negotiation, arbitration/mediation, rewards and advocacy will all be relevant. But are there other courses, or perhaps career paths, you would recommend? If the school offers a clinic in the field I would of course take that as well.


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#75 Uriel

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Posted 18 February 2013 - 04:44 PM

Could you clarify what it is you're seeking with regard to arbitration?  Appearing before an arbitral panel, appearing before administrative tribunals, or becoming an arbitrator?

 

Just as a quick response, although ADR courses may be useful, careers in ADR overlap with careers in litigation.  If your clients have an ADR clause in their contract then you're just litigating there instead of in court.  It's not necessarily a different process, and the courtroom stars are the same people that take the lead in med/arb.  We don't staff ADR any differently than we staff litigation.

 

As for becoming an arbitrator --- which is an amazing job --- I don't believe there is a particular stream that you can follow to get yourself in line for such a position.  An arbitrator has to essentially act as a judge, and her job is to write a reasonable, comprehensive decision that will be appeal-proof.  Litigation is the best training for that; you learn everything you need to know about evidence, witnesses, procedure, etc.  There are, of course, courses involved in becoming a chartered arbitrator, but typically when our clients are looking at selecting an arbitrator we're talking about retired judges or highly, highly respected counsel that could be appointed to the bench in a heartbeat if they so desired. 

 

Your most sought-after arbitrators either served on an appellate court before retirement or have firms named after them.  Unfortunately, unlike administrative tribunals, you can't focus on ADR and become a panel member after a few years of good work.  (Although, I suppose it might be possible on a much smaller scale.  The difficulty is that arbitration is very expensive, and so if you're shelling out the money you tend to want a good arbitrator.  If you're short on cash, you're probably just going to go to court, which is free.) 

 

An arbitrator is a substitute judge, and she typically needs the reputation and authority to have earned that distinction.  Your Teplitskys, your Majors, your Mews, Cherniaks and Slaghts are all seasoned litigators that have lived and breathed dispute resolution for decades.  You might be able to get in after ten or fifteen years of great work and reputation, but remember that ultimately counsel on both sides have to agree that they will respect your legal opinion.  There isn't necessarily a course for that.