While in some sense ubiquitous in today’s legal landscape, little is known about arbitrators and the arbitration process. Below are some “tidbits” of information on this subject.
- The FMCS, which administers a significant portion of the total number of labor-management cases appealed to arbitration, in each of the last five years has sent out a little fewer than 14,000 arbitrator panels to parties in need of an arbitrator . The number of decisions issued in those same years hovered around 2000, which means that there is a high rate of settlements and withdrawals.
- According to the 2014-15 edition of the U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Outlook Handbook, the number of arbitrators, mediators, and conciliators in the United States stood at 8,400 in 2012.
- While there is no exact count, the number of arbitrators engaged in the practice of labor-management arbitration is thought to be some 1100 to 1300 arbitrators. The Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service (FMCS) panel of labor-management arbitrators has numbered right round 1000 arbitrators in recent years. The American Arbitration Association (AAA) labor panel in 2015 stood at 797, while the employment panel consisted of 810 individuals, of which 166 were also on the labor panel. Membership in the National Academy of Arbitrators (whose admission standards capture established and more experienced neutrals) was 617 in 2015.
- To be listed as an arbitrator with an arbitration administrative agency like the FMCS and the AAA, an individual has to meet certain membership requirements. There is no license required to serve as an arbitrator, since the parties are free to choose anyone they want.
- Not all arbitrators are lawyers. In the last comprehensive study of the profession in 1987, 54 percent of labor arbitrators were identified as lawyers. This percentage is believed to be increasing.