FYI: I just posted this essay on LinkedIN in response to a request for advice on entering our field.
I have found that there is much room within the ADR profession for non-attorneys. Most of my ADR sessions have very little to do with points of law and focus more on relationships and the facilitative mediation process. You do not need to be a lawyer to be a solid mediator. I stand on firm ground with this statement with all due respect to the legal profession.
My straight forward advice is to throw yourself heart and soul into the ADR profession. If you wish to succeed within the field, your return will be based on your realistic goals, a marketing plan, and your ability to network, learn, and build evergreen relationships.
There are segments of the field that are dominated by lawyers and retired judges;however, they garner approximately 20-25% of the available ADR business through their networks and professional relationships. The balance of the mediation business is secured through hard work, networking, and one's reputation. You need to uncover the 75- 80% balance through your own initiatives. It is akin to the unadvertised job market. Jobs and ADR assignments are secured through referrals and introductions. Find the ADR opportunities within the RE profession and your personal and professional networks. As Randy Edwards states above, the road is challenging;however, there is more than one path to pursue based on your strengths, passions, and areas of expertise.
This is a very broad topic;however, there is hope since ADR professionals are making a living based on their efforts to succeed outside of the established routes to help disputants and people in conflict. Take it one step at a time. Identify your strengths and your circles of influence. Take a look at Tammy Lenski's book on making a living as an ADR professional. Check the websites of Creighton, Pepperdine,Hamline, Wayne State University, Harvard, and other prominent ADR schools for more information on the profession. Involvement leads to evolvement!
Good luck! It can happen.