The fact of the matter is that the majority of legal disputes are resolved before going to trial. The process by which these conclusions arise is called ADR, or alternative dispute resolution. ADR is commonly practiced in every state and usually ordered by the court – with good reason. Read on to learn how your legal clients might reap the benefits of ADR.
Types of ADR
The two most common types of ADR are mediation and arbitration. In both cases, a neutral third party is selected to help resolve the dispute. In general, mediation is a more informal process where the two parties work together to settle on mutually agreeable terms. The role of the mediator is not to judge the case, but to assist the parties in reaching a voluntary settlement.
Arbitration also involves a neutral third party, but in this case, the arbitrator(s), which can be anywhere from an individual to a team of three people, will act as the judge and jury by making a final, legally binding decision regarding the dispute. During the arbitration process, the legal representatives of the two parties will make statements and submit evidence for review, but neither party is involved in the decision making.
ADR can be used to resolve many types of legal disputes over issues involving:
- Business partnerships
- Debts, loans, and leases
- Homeowners’ associations
- And more
6 Benefits of ADR
There are six key advantages of alternative dispute resolution, including:
1. Faster resolution
The court system is overloaded. It cannot hold a trial for every lawsuit that gets filed. As a result, it can take several years for a legal case to go to trial. One of the benefits of ADR is that resolution is fast. A settlement or arbitration award can be issued within a few weeks or months of filing a lawsuit.
2. Lower cost
Another one of the key advantages of alternative dispute resolution is that ADR is usually a lot cheaper than a trial. Just the discovery process for going to trial can lead to an exorbitant total cost that includes court reporter fees, attorney fees, and the expenses associated with printing and mailing documents. More importantly, a long, drawn-out court trial can require jurors, witnesses, and the parties themselves to remain off of work for weeks. With ADR, the process is shorter, and time is money.
3. More flexibility
The ADR process is less rigid. Unlike a trial date that can vary because of the backlog, ADR can be scheduled at any time. This not only provides greater flexibility but also helps speed up the resolution of the conflict.
For the most part, court trials are public record and can be accessed by anyone. On the other hand, ADR is not only private but also confidential. When an arbitration award is issued, or when both parties come to an amicable settlement through mediation, there is no public record of what transpired during the session. The amount of the award or settlement, the statements made, the list of participants, etc., all remain private. In summary, the public will have no idea when the ADR took place and the eventual outcome. This level of privacy can be very beneficial for high-profile clients, as both parties are able to maintain their reputations.
5. No bias
A neutral third party is selected to preside over all cases that go through ADR. The neutral third party should have no connections to anyone involved in the lawsuit and no interest in the outcome of the dispute. In a court trial, the judge is not selected to preside. The judge is assigned. This difference is critical, as clients can select a neutral third party with specific subject-matter expertise to help facilitate or arrive at a well-informed resolution.
6. Less friction
Once a court verdict is delivered, it invariably leaves one side disappointed, upset, angry, and even bitter. With ADR, the process uses every opportunity to preserve the rapport between the two sides. For example, if there is a child custody case being presented, the mediator or arbitrator will not only take into account the welfare of the child, but also the relationship between the parents. In fact, ADR can help preserve a variety of relationships, including those between business partners, employees-employers, and even homeowners’ association board members.
Ultimately, with alternative dispute resolution, the difference in the outcome of your client’s case will depend on strategic timing, uncovering dispositive facts and legal issues, choosing the right mediator or arbitrator, and preparing for all possible scenarios.
Contact Breakthrough Mediation today to inquire about scheduling an ADR session, as it just might be the alternative that gives your client the best results.