The American Arbitration Association (AAA) created the AAA A. Leon Higginbotham, Jr. Fellows Program ("AAA Higginbotham Fellows Program") in 2009 in order to provide training, mentorship and networking opportunities to up and coming diverse alternative dispute resolution professionals who have historically not been included in meaningful participation in the field of alternative dispute resolution. In 2015, the AAA was recognized for its diversity efforts by the New York Law Journal‘s Diversity Initiative Project. According to the New York Law Journal, the honorees are “law firms and legal organizations that confronted barriers to attracting, training, retaining or supporting diverse talent, and created realistic initiatives to overcome those obstacles and provide ongoing opportunities for growth and advancement.” The AAA’s recognition derives in part from the development and the success of the AAA’s Higginbotham Fellows Program. In 2016, the AAA Higginbotham Fellows Program relaunched as a biennial program designed to offer the full breadth of the AAA resources for emerging diverse alternative dispute resolution professionals. 

The foundation of the Fellowship is a week-long intensive training program conducted at the AAA’s offices, consisting of interactive seminars on dispute resolution topics taught by leading ADR professionals, participation in mock arbitrations and mediations, and courses focused on building a career in ADR. Fellows also have the opportunity to attend the AAA’s Annual Meeting’s related events. Fellows are also matched with AAA arbitrators and mediators in their field of interest who commit to providing networking opportunities and advice to Fellows during the Fellowship year. Past Fellows have utilized their mentorships to shadow their mentors at arbitration hearings, co-facilitate ADR trainings, obtain career advice and critique their business plans. In addition, Fellows have served as speakers at several AAA sponsored events.

The AAA Higginbotham Fellowship Program continues to exceed expectations with past Fellows making gains in their ADR careers, including those who have successfully advanced to the AAA’s Roster of Arbitrators and Mediators. Most of these Fellows have been listed on numerous arbitrator and mediator lists provided to the parties in the short period of time that they have been on the panel, and nearly all have been appointed to arbitrations and mediations administered by the AAA. Click here to read the arbitrator profiles featured in the AAA’s Arbitrator Spotlight.


The 2020 AAA Higginbotham Fellows Program will be hosted in New York City during the week of May 3, 2020. During the program, Fellows will engage with leading ADR practitioners for an intensive week of training, seminars, and networking events. Fellows will also have the opportunity to meet with AAA Board of Directors and Council Members at special events related to the AAA's Annual Board Meeting, which coincides with the one week Fellows Program.

We are now accepting applications for the 2020 AAA Higginbotham Fellows Program. 

Limited scholarships will be available. Request for scholarship should be made at the time of application outlining financial need. 

Application deadline is Friday, January 17, 2020.

Final decisions will be announced in February 2020.

2020 AAA Higginbotham Guidelines

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If you have questions about the AAA Higginbotham Fellows Program, please contact