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Richard Fincher

Scheinman Advisory Board Spotlight: Richard Fincher

Name: Richard Fincher
Current professional position: 
Mediator and Arbitrator/Attorney
Instructor, ILR Scheinman Institute on Conflict Resolution  
Instructor, Sandra Day O’Conner College of Law at Arizona State University 
JD ‘82 and BS ILR’ 73
Career highlights: 

  • First job out of ILR was in labor relations for Xerox Corporation in Rochester. The SVP HR was an ILR Alum.
  • During this time in Rochester, I became a volunteer mediator in the Community Dispute Services office of the American Arbitration Association (AAA). 
  • Later I worked full-time for the American Arbitration Association in Washington, DC, and then with AAA through law school in Chicago. (my manager was an ILR alum)
  • Then I worked in labor and employment law for many years in Chicago. 
  • Later returned to HR as a Vice-President of Human Resources in healthcare and aerospace 
  • Twenty years ago, I became self-employed as a full-time mediator and arbitrator of labor and employment disputes, and eventually an elected member of the National Academy of Arbitrators (NAA). Many fellow arbitrators in the NAA are ILR Alums and classmates.  
  • Most recently, my passion is teaching ADR in Asia, including Vietnam and China 

Professional experience: Human resources, labor relations,, AAA, labor lawyer, full-time neutral 
Most memorable professional experience: 

  • Teaching ADR as a Fulbright Scholar for Vietnam at Ton Duc Thang University in Saigon 
  • Spending two months in residence at  ILR as a Visiting Fellow for the Scheinman Institute 
  • Being a lifelong friend with professor David Lipsky, and writing a book with him and Professor Ron Seeber on conflict management systems. (As an undergraduate, Dave was a professor of mine teaching sector bargaining) 

The biggest challenges now and ahead for mediation and arbitration: 

  • Diversity of the neutral pool
  • Barriers to entry in the profession, including selection bias and risk adversity of the parties
  • Costs and delay in hearings 

How has the pandemic changed your work: 

  • At first, all cases were canceled and postponed for three months, assuming covid would be over by then. Parties were very hesitant. 
  • Today, almost all hearings are now virtual and accepted by the parties.

What is your motivation to be involved with the Scheinman Institute: 

  • To teach and mentor students
  • To aspire students to a career  as a neutral
  • To give back to the university 

Personal experience working with the Scheinman Institute and/or ILR:

  • Originally, an instructor for the Alliance in Education of Neutrals
  • 16 years in neutral development programs, including ECornell program on building a business plan
  • Five years in leading a joint course with ILR International Programs in Vietnam 
  • CAAN for past 12 years, meeting high school students applying to ILR
  • Chair of Arizona ILR Chapter 
  • Board member of Cornell Club of Arizona

Advice to students in the conflict resolution field: 

  • First find a substantive area of expertise or law
  • Secure role models and mentors
  • Dedication
  • Persistence
  • Volunteer
  • Join ADR organizations (ACR, ABA)