Alternative dispute resolution (“ADR”) refers to resolution of legal disputes outside the courtroom. The two primary methods of ADR are mediation and arbitration. In most lawsuits filed in state court, the court will require the parties to attempt mediation. In mediation, the parties to a dispute select a mediator. The mediator will obtain information regarding the parties’ dispute and then hold a mediation session. In the mediation session, the mediator will meet with the parties separately and also possibly together and attempt to broker an agreed settlement. The parties are under no obligation to agree to any settlement, and may agree to a settlement after the mediation is over. Mediation requires the parties to compromise in the interest of resolving the dispute.
In an arbitration, the parties hire an arbitrator who is authorized to resolve the dispute through an arbitration proceeding. An arbitration proceeding is similar to a court trial in that the arbitrator takes on the role of a judge, however, different procedural rules often apply. Some advantages to an arbitration are that a resolution can be reached faster than a typical lawsuit filed in court and records of the arbitration will not be accessible by the public. Oftentimes disputes will arise as to whether a particular legal dispute must be resolved via arbitration rather than in court.
The attorneys at Herms & Cullers have represented many clients through mediations and arbitrations. Dean Herms has served as an arbitrator. Please do not hesitate to call our office if you find yourself in the midst of an arbitration or mediation.