Resolve360 is a pioneering firm at the forefront of promoting Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) as a viable and effective method of resolving disputes in Uganda. With a focus on providing training, advocacy and sensitization on Alternative Dispute Resolution Mechanisms in Uganda and Africa at large, we aim to achieve capacity-building in the ADR field. Additionally, we aim to be a catalyst for positive change by enhancing peace-building and transformation in communities.
Despite the proven advantages of ADR, we have observed a significant gap in sensitization and practice of these techniques among students and young professionals in Uganda. In fact, ADR mechanisms are not widely taught at most universities or even across all courses at the universities. Since the students at the universities represent the future of their professions, it is crucial to equip them with the knowledge and skills required to employ ADR in their future careers. One of the ways we have ramped up efforts is by conducting mentorship series where students and young professionals can interact with practitioners in the ADR field. This, we believe, will allow for transfer of knowledge and skills alongside sensitization of young professionals and students about Alternative Dispute Resolution. The mentorship series will be held once every month.
Inaugural Mentorship Series with Akoth Aluoch, MCIArb
We were privileged to launch the Mentorship series on Thursday 17th August, 2023. Our mentor of the month for the inaugural mentorship series was Akoth Aluoch, MCIArb. Akoth is an Advocate of the High Court of Kenya, an Arbitrator and a Certified Professional Mediator. The Theme of this Mentorship series was “The Young Practitioner’s Place in ADR”.
Akoth shared with us about her personal journey into the ADR field. With this, she addressed the importance of mentors in her different workplaces who gave her the opportunity to participate in arbitrations during her pupillage training. She furthermore addressed the need for training in ADR in order to boost skills in the field. These skills not only get you ready to perform duties as a party representative but also as the tribunal or part of it. With this, she mentioned that it took her four years of preparation before she got her first appointment as an arbitrator.
On the issue of handling this appointment, Akoth mentioned the need for young practitioners to adequately prepare but also remember that the course is more about the parties and not about themselves. This distinction is important because it informs the practitioners not to insert themselves in the case, but rather, do what is necessary to prepare a good arbitrator’s award.
She explained to the mentees the difference between an institutional appointment and an ad hoc appointment. With the ad hoc appointment, there was a realization that there is a need to build a good personal brand during efforts to establish a niche in this field.
Additionally, it is good to develop good qualities like time management, people skills and healthy communication skills. Parties will always be attracted to appointing an arbitrator who has shown himself to be capable and knowledgeable in the field. She addressed the concept of the local ADR arena and the regional/ global ADR arena and what it takes to stand out in the two arenas. The local arena can largely be navigated by training, being a part of local institutions, networking and publishing. Akoth shared about how she has leveraged volunteering in ADR related events in Kenya to build her profile in the ADR field and urged the mentees to do the same.
The global arena, where one would interact with more international parties and practitioners, can be a different ball game altogether. One still has to educate themselves about how arbitration is conducted in this arena and similarly employ the good qualities that would make one a good arbitrator/ADR practitioner on the local scene. With the global arena comes a sensitive issue of cross-cultural disputes that require emotional intelligence and empathy to deal with this. Cross-culture disputes also require an arbitrator to have a keen sense of cultural sensitivity and adaptability in order to resolve disputes between parties in such cases.
During the mentorship series, the mentees were shown the difference between the various ADR mechanisms and the need to train in all of them in order to become conversant with them. There was also mention of the need to have collaborations from practitioners in different sectors and fields, for instance, banking, engineering, IT, accounting and banking among others. Ideally, ADR can be applied across every field and in most proceedings, one can notice the need for collaboration amongst different fields in order to make submissions or provide evidence before the tribunal.
The need for mentorship cannot be overstated. With the sensitization gap in Uganda being at an all-time high, this monthly mentorship series project is key to addressing this challenge.
The Young Practitioner can have a place in the ADR field through leveraging networks, training, volunteering opportunities and also making use of mentorship. With the uptake of ADR being on the rise in Uganda and Africa in general, it will only be more important to have ADR training and skills in the different sectors and industries.