Who can be an arbitrator?

With the increasing demand and credibility for alternative dispute methods such as arbitration, states are now requiring certain criteria to be met in order to practice as an arbitrator. The criteria are different for each state, so you should contact your state’s bar association to learn about the requirements in your area.


Most states require at least a bachelor's degree in order to become a certified arbitrator. Often states and private certification companies also require that you’ve graduated from law school and have experience as an attorney.


States vary widely on the type of training required for certification. Some states require no training at all. Other states have mandatory programs that are run through the courts to train arbitrators. Many states also require at one year of apprenticeship under a certified arbitrator.


For specialized arbitration courts such as the IRS and the Better Business Bureau, you must be familiar with the particular area of law in question. Some organizations also require that you be recommended by another experienced judge or arbitrator in that particular area. Finally, some court arbitrators may be required to stand for questioning by the judge overseeing the case before they are permitted to arbitrate the issues.


Sometimes an arbitration clause may specify qualifications of potential arbitrators. For example, reinsurance arbitration clauses typically require that the arbitrators be selected from among current or former officers of insurance companies.

Overall, it is vital that you verify your state’s requirements before advertising yourself as an arbitrator. Otherwise, you may find yourself being fined by the state or worse, have your certification revoked.