The cost associated with litigation, the bureaucracy and delay associated with the court system and the adversarial nature of litigation make it a daunting process for a growing number of individuals and businesses. If the parties are willing and truly motivated to reach an accord, many disputes can be resolved using creative, non-judicial methods, including mediation and arbitration, that are faster, less costly and less contentious than a formal court proceeding.

In our chamber we have an Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) practice group to resolve matters more efficiently, while continuing to advocate strongly on our clients’ behalf to achieve the desired results.

ADR is especially helpful in disputes where the parties have ongoing relationships they wish to continue after the current dispute is resolved. Because matters are usually resolved more expeditiously, the process tends to leave fewer scars to dampen future relationships. In addition, unlike litigation, which is by necessity a matter of public record, ADR proceedings are private, involving only the parties on both sides and a neutral person. Thus, sensitive information can be protected from public scrutiny.

• Mediation :

In its simplest form, mediation is a flexible, non-binding, confidential process in which a neutral person facilitates settlement negotiations. The mediator improves communications across party lines, helps parties articulate their interests and understand those of the other party, probes the strengths and weaknesses of each party's legal positions, identifies areas of agreement and helps generate options for a mutually agreeable resolution to the dispute. The mediator generally does not give an overall evaluation of the case. A hallmark of mediation is its capacity to expand traditional settlement discussion and broaden resolution options, often by exploring litigant needs and interests that may be formally independent of the legal issues in controversy.

• Arbitration :

Arbitration is an adjudicative process in which an arbitrator or a panel of three arbitrators issues a binding award on a case’s merits after an expedited, adversarial hearing. The ability of either party to appeal the award is very limited. Arbitration occurs earlier in the life of a case than a trial and is less formal and less expensive. Because testimony is taken under oath and is subject to cross-examination, arbitration can be especially useful in cases that turn on credibility of witnesses. Unlike mediators, arbitrators generally do not facilitate settlement discussions.

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