The Future of Workplace Dispute Resolution:
Envisioning a Professional Community with Modern Tools

February 18, 2021 • March 18, 2021 April 15, 2021
12 - 3:30 pm Eastern Time (New York Time)



The Labor and Employment Relations Association Dispute Resolution Interest Section is hosting a series of nine webinars over three dates in February, March, and April on "The Future of Workplace Dispute Resolution: Envisioning a professional community with modern tools."

Each of the nine online conversations will bring together members of several associations representing professionals in the field of workplace dispute resolution. The future of our field over the next ten to fifteen years will be discussed in panel or salon format, and speakers include academic faculty, law faculty, mediators, arbitrators, Ombuds, and providers of ADR services and government panels. Audiences will enjoy a timely session length with concentrated content and Q&A opportunities

Conference days will begin at noon and conclude at 3:30 pm Eastern Time (New York Time).

Registration is complimentary, but required! Registration will be per series day with an indication of the session(s) interested in attending. The registration confirmation email will include the Zoom meeting information. You will receive any updates of note and an email reminder the morning of your selected series date at the registered email. Recordings and topical follow-up content will also be made available to registered participants. 

The series is co-sponsored by the American Arbitration Association (AAA), Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service (FMCS), American Bar Association-Dispute Resolution Section (ABA-DRS), Association for Conflict Resolution-Workplace/Ombuds Section (ACR), International Ombudsman Association (IOA), National Academy of Arbitrators (NAA).

For questions, email [email protected].

The series is warmly dedicated to past LERA President, David Lipsky.

David Lipsky


Day 1
Feb. 18

Day 2
Mar. 18

Day 3
Apr. 15

Session 1 Slides

Session 4 Slides

Session 7 Slides

Session 2 Slides

Session 5 Slides

Session 8 Slides

Session 3 Slides

Session 6 Slides

Session 9 Slides




Day One: February 18, 2021

12 to 3:30 pm Eastern Time (New York Time)

Session 1 (12 - 1 pm ET): Future of Diversity within the Dispute Resolution Profession: What will be the status of gender/racial diversity among the cadre of active arbitrators and mediators of labor and employment disputes in 2030?  What strategies will have helped to accomplish that result?


  • Sandra Smith Gangle, J.D., Retired Arbitrator, Author of "Madam Arbitrator', Diversity and Inclusion Practice Chair,  LERA Dispute Resolution Section 

Session Description: The session will feature such topics as:  

(1)   How improving the diversity and inclusion among dispute-resolution professionals will make a difference in employment justice;

(2)   What strategies, including mentorship and sponsorship, will help improve diversity among the active mediators and arbitrators;

(3)   How advocates for employees and management can learn to avoid risk aversion and selection bias when choosing from a list that includes newer, more diverse professionals; and

(4)   How roster selection procedures might be adjusted, so that diverse professionals will have a better opportunity for selection in appropriate cases


Session 2 (1:15 - 2:15 pm ET): Building the Next Generation of Workplace Neutrals: What will change in ten years? What new competencies are required for an evolving client profile?


Session DescriptionThe founding generation of workplace mediators and arbitrators are retiring. During their careers, the ADR profession dramatically changed. The exact future of workplace ADR, along with client expectations, is uncertain.

This conversation will focus on four themes: a) what will be the changing demographics of the labor force (often plaintiffs) and the nature of work, b) what will be the changing demographics of the entering neutrals and their entry paths, c) how will distance/virtual learning influence training programs and the development process, and d) what new competencies will be required, such as ODR capability and broad settlement skills.


  • Professor Harry KatzJack Sheinkman Professor; Director, Scheinman Institute on Conflict Resolution, Cornell University ILR; President-Elect, International Labor and Employment Relations Association (ILERA)
  • Professor Rachel GoedkenDirector, Werner Institute for Negotiation & Conflict Resolution; Assistant Professor, School of Law, Creighton University
  • Richard Fincher, Moderator and Panelist; Mediator and Arbitrator, NAA; Workplace Resolutions LLC

Session 3 (2:30 - 3:30 pm ET): The Future of Workplace Dispute Resolution: A Conversation Across Professional Associations


  • Todd Dickey, Syracuse University and Association for Conflict Resolution Workplace-Ombuds Section

Session Description: A roundtable conversation on the future of workplace dispute resolution with representatives of several co-sponsoring organizations of LERA’s Future of Workplace Dispute Resolution series.


Day Two: March 18, 2021

12 to 3:30 pm Eastern Time (New York Time)

Session 4 (12 - 1 pm ET): The Future of Employment Arbitration


Session Description: Employment arbitration agreements proliferated in recent decades and cover at least two thirds of private sector workers today.  But what does the next ten to twenty years have in store for the provocative institution?  

This conversation will focus on the future of employment arbitration and implications for key employee, employer, and neutral stakeholders.  The session will cover the lasting effects of COVID for, potential legal challenges to, and institutional changes affecting accessibility of (procedural changes, pro se representation, etc.) employment arbitration.


Session 5 (1:15 - 2:15 pm ET): What Does the Process of Labor Arbitration Look Like in the Future?


Session Description: The last few years – and indeed the last 12 months – have witnessed significant change in the process of labor arbitration from a micro perspective. This program will examine those changes, and to a greater extent, attempt to evaluate what changes we can expect in the next 10-15 years.

For example, will we continue to see more virtual labor arbitration hearings or a return to tradition, or perhaps hybrid processes? If we do continue to see changes, how will it affect the components of the process? For instance, will hearings become paperless; what will happen to court reporters; and will pre-hearing conferences become the norm? Additionally, how will the parties and administering agencies address diversity and inclusion in the selection process going forward?

The panel will also explore whether the future portends innovation or expansion of the process itself to such as arb-med or grievance mediation, either ad hoc at the request of the parties, through contract, or by administering agencies. Perhaps most significantly, the discussion will also include what changes these developments will require in the skillset of a new generation of arbitrators and what will the impact be on the workplace justice as a whole.


Session 6 (2:30 - 3:30 pm ET): What Does the Future Landscape of Labor Arbitration Look Like?


Session Description: This program will address some of the broader legal, political, and professional challenges for the future of labor arbitration – at all levels. Clearly, there have been changes in the labor arbitration landscape over the past decade, and this program will examine what directions those developments may foreshadow.

For example, from legal/political perspective, the panelists will discuss whether more state governments will try to eliminate collective bargaining (and thus arbitration) in the public sector. The panelists will also discuss the potential for SCOTUS to end the historical deference of courts to arbitration awards, and/or tinker with the Trilogy. Also, what changes can be expected in federal sector labor arbitration?

The panel will discuss some of possible changes in the profession of labor arbitration itself. For example, will the parties demand that the profession become more diverse? If yes, how will it happen? Must the providers change their eligibility standards and how might that affect the profession?

The panel will also address the increasing legalization in labor arbitration and whether this will shrink the market. Along that line, the panel will examine the implications of virtual hearings and whether those will reduce reliance on regional arbitrators and ad hoc selection. Is the market for the top 20% of arbitrators shrinking to 10%, and what is the future of the NAA?


Day Three: April 15, 2021

12 to 3:30 pm Eastern Time (New York Time)

Session 7 (12 - 1 pm ET): The Future of Workplace Mediation Part I: Beyond Zoom − How Technology is Transforming Mediation Practice and the Profession


  • Janet Gillman, State Conciliator, Oregon Employment Relations Board
  • Tom Melancon, Strategy Officer, Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service

Session Description: Online Dispute Resolution (ODR) technologies are rapidly changing the way parties and neutrals approach conflict resolution.  Computer assisted settlement systems, partially or fully automated, with or without mediator involvement, are on the rise in commercial settings, courts, and workplaces. This session will explore ODR trends and impacts on workplace dispute resolution.  Panelists will discuss the next generation of digital tools designed to support negotiation and dispute resolution processes; impacts on the structure, design, and delivery of mediation services; new and evolving roles for mediators; and ODR related standards and ethics. 


  • Danielle Carne, Mediator/Arbitrator, Carne Dispute Resolution
  • Joshua Flax, Chief Strategy Officer, Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service (FMCS)
  • David Larson, Professor, Mitchell Hamline School of Law

Session 8 (1:15 - 2:15 pm ET): The Future of Workplace Mediation Part II: Designing Dispute Resolution Processes to More Fully Address and Resolve Workplace Conflict


  • Janet Gillman, Oregon Employment Relations Board
  • Tom Melancon, Strategy Officer, Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service
Session Description: Claims of discrimination, harassment, and other forms of wrongful workplace treatment are often the tip of the iceberg; below the surface are organizational systems, norms, attitudes, and patterns of behavior that foster and perpetuate conflict.  This panel will discuss a growing need for dispute resolution practitioners to assist parties not only in settling disputed claims but in helping to address underlying issues, repairing damaged relationships and broken organizational systems.  Some of the approaches to the future of workplace dispute resolution that will be discussed include reparative dispute resolution processes, leadership education and training, conflict coaching, and med-arb.


    • Jennifer Pernfuss, Consultant and Coach, RESPECT: Conciliation and Education  
    • Susan Stewart, Arbitrator & Mediator, Pax Dispute Resolution Ltd
    • Peter Swanson, Chief Practitioner, Office of Conflict Management and Prevention, Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service (FMCS)

Session 9 (2:30 - 3:30 pm ET): Future of Ombuds


Session Description: An essential topic in the field is the future of the organizational ombuds in workplace conflict resolution, including the ombuds role in Integrated Conflict Management Systems (ICMS).  Organizational ombuds are impartial, confidential conflict resolvers that aid in the resolution and mitigation of conflict within organizations by assisting individuals in identifying and assessing options to resolve concerns, as well as identifying systemic issues within the organization.  This panel of experts will briefly outline the current status of the organizational ombuds in resolving workplace conflict.  The discussion will then focus on expert predictions on where and how workplace organizational ombuds programs will evolve by 2031, in the private, public, and federal sectors. 


    • Dr. Angela Dash, Founder and President of the Pace Institute
    • Chuck Howard, Executive Director of the International Ombudsman Association
    • Arthur Pearlstein, Director of Arbitration Services, Federal Mediation & Conciliation Service


Registration is complimentary, but required! Attendees will register per series day with an indication of session(s) interested in. Registration includes an immediate Zoom meeting invitation, any updates of note, and an email reminder the morning of your selected series date. Recordings and topical follow-up content will also be made available to registered participants. 


        • Mark Gough, LERA DRIS Co-chair, PSU/employment arbitration
        • Bradley Weinberg, LERA DRIS Co-Chair, Queens University
        • Richard Fincher, Series Planning Chair
        • Todd Dickey, Chair of ACR Workplace/Ombuds Section
        • Sandra Gangle, Neutral, Diversity and Inclusion (Labor and Employment ADR)
        • Rick Bales, Future of the Law Profession and ADR
        • Mark Travis, Future of Labor Arbitration
        • Mark Gough and Betty Widgeon, Employment Arbitration
        • Sarah Espinosa, Ombuds
        • Janet Gillman, Labor and Employment Mediation


Please join us in thanking our sponsors. This series has been supported by the following organizations.


 AAA logo ACR logo