Alternate Dispute Resolution and Mediation
ALTERNATE DISPUTE RESOLUTION
Jury trials are expensive and painful affairs. Alternate dispute resolution (ADR) techniques try to ease this pain and expense, while also reducing court backlogs.
There are numerous forms that ADR can take. The principal forms are mediation, binding arbitration, nonbinding arbitration, and high-low arbitration. Only the imagination limits the possibilities here. As long as both sides agree, ADR can take place in virtually any setting, utilizing virtually any procedure.
Mediation involves bringing the sides together before a neutral third party. This third party can be a judge, an ex-judge, a practicing attorney, a professional mediator, or any other individual upon whom both sides agree.
The mediator helps the parties find common ground. He or she does not make a decision like a judge. Instead, he or she helps to get each side to see the merit in the other side’s positions. He or she also points out weaknesses that the parties may not realize exist in their own case. By bringing the parties together in this setting, the mediator hopes to expedite settlement of the case or, at least, bring the sides closer together.
The mediator’s neutrality is his or her power. This neutral perspective may give both sides the first truly independent evaluation of the case. It can greatly influence the way the parties view the case for settlement purposes.
Mediation is most appropriate where both sides see the possibility for settlement. When one or both sides are firmly entrenched in their position, it is unlikely that mediation will be useful.