Basic Skills for the New Arbitrator (Book Review)

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Second Edition
Basic Skills for the New Arbitrator
By Allan H. Goodman


Who Should Read This Book?

Often times people who are highly experienced in either Negotiation, Mediation or Arbitration wish to try and enter one of the other of these three as a field of avocation. If you are a Negotiator or Mediator and have been considering adding Arbitration to your repertoire of services, then this book was written for YOU! One should carefully remember that the field of Arbitration is different in some very key aspects; from mediation and negotiation. An Arbitrator is in essence a Judge. And even more interesting, the Arbitrator’s ruling is for the most part, unappealable. There are some extreme conditions where an Arbitrator can be shown to have a conflict of interest or a personal vested interest in ruling a certain way. These situations, rare though they be, are the few types of Arbitration rulings that can be overturned. Otherwise, NOT! An Arbitrator’s ruling is fairly unique in that it is not a court ruling, but a ruling based on a Contract between the parties and the Arbitrator or Arbitrators. Thus to vacate an Arbitrator’s ruling is very difficult.

How IS This Different Than Everything I Do?

The Arbitrator renders a Decision. Neither a Mediator nor a Negotiator may render a decision. Neither have the power of adjudication. The Arbitrator specifically does have the power of adjudication. As such, the one thing that is a total NO GO in Arbitration is that there is to be no ex parte communications. Mediation is built on the concept of ex parte communication. The Mediator depends on his/her ability to meet with parties without the others being present. If the Arbitrator does this, he/she may put their award in danger of being vacated.

What’s In This Book?

Goodman uses a brilliant method of presentation. He structures the book so that it is basically the answers to the 100 most often and most important questions asked about Arbitration; in Goodman’s opinion. This reviewer believes that Goodman has a good opinion. He is an Arbitrator and Mediator, and is currently a Judge on the US GSA (General Services Administration) Board of Contract Appeals.

Goodman’s elucidation is collated in a chronological order in terms of the stages of an Arbitration. As such, the names of his chapters are as follows:


  • The Arbitration Process
  • Prehearing Procedures
  • Prehearing Submissions, Subpoenas and Discovery Disputes
  • Conducting The Hearing
  • Evidence and Objections
  • Witness Testimony and Closing Arguments
  • The Arbitration Award
  • After The Award
  • Payment and Conclusion
  • Appendix: Forms

If these above subjects are not self-evident to you, perhaps Goodman’s book is a little over your head. However, if you understand the meaning of the above topics, it is not necessary that you know the answers. That is what is in the book.

For example, the book explains that the normal rules of evidence do NOT apply in Arbitration. The Arbitrator has the final say as to what is admitted and what is not admitted. And the book indicates that to err on the side of admitting, is the norm, not the exception.

The book is truly chocked full of this type of information and how the Arbitrator should handle the situation.

In Conclusion

In conclusion, the book is truly the best example of how an experienced Mediator or Negotiator can transition into one of excellent understanding of Arbitration by reading this book. It should be carefully noted that there is one other very key difference with respect to Arbitration versus Mediation or Negotiation. It is not a requirement that the Mediator or even the Negotiator is a “subject expert” in order to do their job excellently. However, an Arbitrator is assumed to be a subject expert and also, to some extent a legal expert in that small area in which the Arbitration is focused. It is unwise for an Arbitrator to take a case in an area where he/she has absolutely no knowledge; unless, they intend to become a subject expert prior to the hearing. With those limited caveats, this book is one of the finest of its kind. I have not read a better primer on any subject in a very long time.



Jon Linden

Jon Linden is a Mediator, Trainer and Business Consultant. He holds an BS in biology and an MBA, both from Lehigh University in Bethlehem, PA. Jon spent 20 years in the Food Service Distribution business, where he was the COO and Sr. V-P of a Distribution Center of a major… MORE >

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