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What Is Alternative Dispute Resolution?

Definition of Alternative Dispute Resolution

Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) is the procedure for settling disputes without litigation, such as arbitration, mediation, or negotiation. ADR procedures are usually less costly and more expeditious. They are increasingly being utilized in disputes that would otherwise result in litigation, including high-profile labor disputes, divorce actions, and personal injury claims.

One of the primary reasons parties may prefer ADR proceedings is that, unlike adversarial litigation, ADR procedures are often collaborative and allow the parties to understand each other's positions. ADR also allows the parties to come up with more creative solutions that a court may not be legally allowed to impose.

Terms to Know

  • Arbitration - A process similar to an informal trial where an impartial third party hears each side of a dispute and issues a decision; the parties may agree to have the decision be binding or non-binding
  • Binding and Non-Binding - A binding decision is a ruling that the parties must abide by whether or not they agree with it; a non-binding decision is a ruling that the parties may choose to ignore
  • Arbitrator - An impartial person given the power to resolve a dispute by hearing each side and coming to decision
  • Hearing - A proceeding in which evidence and arguments are presented, usually to a decision-maker who will issue ruling
  • Mediation - A collaborative process where a mediator works with the parties to come to a mutually agreeable solution; mediation is usually non-binding

For more definitions, visit the FindLaw Legal Dictionary.

Other Considerations When Hiring an Alternative Dispute Resolution Attorney

Even though Alternative Dispute Resolution is intended to reduce the costs, stress, and formality associated with going to court, many parties still hire attorneys to represent them at ADR proceedings. They also seek out pre-proceeding consultations about possible solutions or strategies. Just as with any legal dispute, you should hire an attorney with experience in your particular legal issue who also is familiar with the collaborative process of ADR.

Additionally, arbitrators and mediators are often lawyers. Rather than hiring a lawyer to represent each party in an ADR proceeding, some parties agree to hire a single lawyer to act as an impartial third party to guide the resolution and ensure that all solution proposals are legal.

If you are involved in a legal issue that you would like to be resolved through ADR, contact an ADR lawyer immediately to explore your options.

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